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For District V director: Joseph A. Heppert

September 7, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 36


Photo of Joseph Heppert.
Credit: Texas Tech University

Wakarusa Valley Section. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

Academic record: San José State University, B.S., 1978; University of Wisconsin, Ph.D., 1982; Indiana University, postdoctoral fellow, 1985.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2012; University of Kansas Leading Light Award, 2012; Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, 2002; University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence Graduate Teaching Award, 1998; Keeler Intra-University, professor, 1998.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Texas Tech University, vice president for research, 2017–; University of Kansas, associate vice chancellor for research, 2009–17, chemistry chair, 2005–17, professor, 2001–17, director, Center for Science Education, 2001–09.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Budget & Finance, 2013–17, chair, 2017–18, vice chair, 2014–16, committee associate, 2011–12; Committee on Education, 2002–10, chair, 2004–06, committee associate, 2000–01; Council Policy Committee (nonvoting), 2004–06; ACS Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition National Advisory Board, 2011–14; Governance Review Team A, 2007; ACS Program Review Advisory Group, 2005–06; Task Forces on Program Valuation & Metrics, 2013–14; ACS Joint Board President’s Task Force on Education, spring 2009–10; ACS President’s Task Force on Competitiveness, 2007–08.

Service in ACS offices: Wakarusa Valley Section (formerly University of Kansas Section): councilor, 1997–2020; alternate councilor, 1994–96; chair, 2004, 1993; chair-elect, 2003, 1992; treasurer, 1991. Midwest Regional Meeting: general meeting cochair, 2017; program chair, 2002; Financial Planning Conference, co-organizer, 2017; participant, 2011.

Member: Member of ACS since 1979; Sigma Xi; American Association for the Advancement of Science; National Science Teachers Association; Association for the Education of Teachers in Science; National Association for Research on Science Teaching; ACS divisions: Chemical Education, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry.

Candidates will not be notified of comments left on this webpage. To contact this candidate directly, e-mail

Related activities: ACS Legislative Summit, participant, April 2008; Sen. Pat Roberts Advisory Committee on Science, Technology & the Future, past member; University of Kansas’s Center for Science Education, past director; University of Kansas Faculty and University Senate Executive Committees, past chair; Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (NSF-ERC), education director; Advanced Academy of Georgia, Board of Directors, past member; University of Kansas Medical

Heppert’s statement

All chemists can be proud of the work we accomplish through ACS. ACS is acknowledged as one of the world’s top professional scientific societies. Factors that motivate chemists to associate with ACS are diverse and often interrelated. We all benefit from the access the society provides to scholarly information; education; professional activities and employment; advocacy for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues; and fellowship with like-minded chemical scientists. ACS does a remarkable job accommodating these broad needs under a single umbrella. As we look to the coming decade, I believe the society needs to examine how to sustain and evolve these activities to both serve the needs of existing members and attract and retain new generations of chemical scientists.

Chemical jobs. Over the past 75 years, the international chemical industry, led by U.S. chemical innovation, has ushered the world into a healthier, more prosperous, and increasingly more environmentally conscious era. Chemical industries, along with their client and supplier businesses, have long been a key strength of the U.S. economy. The perceived erosion of this mainstay of professional chemical employment and U.S. economic prosperity accounts for the concerns many have for sustaining membership in the society and the vitality of domestic chemical businesses.


Regardless of the evolving structure of our chemical industry, ACS members know that chemical innovation must continue to play a central role in driving U.S. competitiveness. Without chemical entrepreneurship, we will stifle one important pathway for developing innovations critical to the vitality of high-tech industry. ACS needs to advocate for chemical entrepreneurs on a national level and help connect the originators of promising technologies in industry and academics with resources needed to successfully launch new product lines and chemistry start-ups. The society must encourage talented chemists and chemical engineers to obtain the business and political skills and experiences required to become discerning leaders of and advocates for U.S. chemical businesses.

Chemical education. Degrees in chemistry provide an excellent foundation for career paths in chemical-, biotechnology-, and materials-related industries and in business, teaching, and government service. Leadership from the Division of Chemical Education and the Committee on Professional Training has created greater traction for innovation in undergraduate curricula over the past decade. However, the society needs to go further to ensure that graduate and undergraduate students are prepared for the rapidly changing environment in high-technology employment. Undergraduate students need expanded access to research at chemistry’s disciplinary interfaces, and all students should have the opportunity to explore complementary career paths, such as information science, biotechnology, law, international relations, and government service. More students need to gain firsthand experience in innovation and entrepreneurship through work in maker spaces, internships in high-technology businesses, and participation in entrepreneurship training programs. ACS already has substantial experience in many of these areas, but we must also advocate for providing these opportunities earlier in the formal educational process.

Building on existing ACS strengths.ACS programs, including Project SEED, ACS Scholars, and local section outreach, are already working to increase the diversity of student populations studying in STEM fields. ACS needs to redouble its efforts in these areas. The society can play an increased role in advocating for federal, state, and local programs to enhance STEM education, and in ACS sponsorship of programs bringing the wonder of the chemical sciences to students from underrepresented populations.

ACS remains the world’s premier source of chemical science knowledge, which is an important value proposition for scientists who associate with the society. Recent changes in ACS publications and information services have been very popular among academic and industry client bases. As the society considers strategies for retaining younger scientists, we need to examine how these individuals access and consume scientific information and how we can adapt society programs beyond CAS and publications to support this critical segment of our membership.

The vast majority of scientific professionals are appalled by a governmental climate that seems to marginalize the role of scientific knowledge in policy-making and sidetrack programs that support high-quality STEM education and research. ACS must sustain support for its Office of Public Affairs while seeking partnerships among other scientific societies and technology-related businesses to publicly advocate for support of science.

It is truly an honor to have been asked to stand for election for the District V director position on the ACS Board of Directors. If elected, I will work with ACS members and with other representatives on the board to support society policies, practices, and programs that will address these and other questions of importance to ACS members.


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