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For District I director: Laura E. Pence

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

Photo of Laura Pence.
Credit: Lifetouch

Connecticut Valley Section. University of Hartford, West Hartford, Conn.

Academic record: Lebanon Valley College, B.S., 1987; Michigan State University, Ph.D., 1992; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NIH Postdoc Fellow, 1992–95.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2011; ACS/AAAS Congressional Science Policy Fellow, 2012–13; Visiting Scientist Award, ACS Western Connecticut Section, 2006; Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Hartford, 2006; Sigma Alpha Pi Excellence in Teaching Award, 2009; Top 25 Highest Rated University Professors nationally, 2013–14, 2016–17.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): University of Hartford, professor of chemistry, 2009–, associate professor, 2001–09, department of chemistry, chair, 2002–09; office of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado), ACS/AAAS Congressional Science Policy Fellow, 2012–13.

Service in ACS national offices: Board of Directors, director, District I, 2016–18; councilor ex officio, 2016–18; Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations, 2016–18, chair, 2018; Committee on Environmental Improvement, 2014–15, 2009–12, chair, 2014–15, committee associate, 2007–09; ACS Member Insurance Board of Trustees, 2017–19; ACS Green Chemistry Institute Governing Board, adviser, 2014–2015.

Service in ACS offices: Connecticut Valley Section: councilor, 2015. Chemical Education Division: alternate councilor, 2012–14, 2003–05; councilor, 2006–11; Strategic Planning Committee, chair, 2007; ACS national meetings, program cochair, fall 1999, spring 2003; Long Range Planning Committee, 2009–14; Program Committee, member, 1996–2006; ACS national meetings: symposium organizer, fall 1998, spring 2008, fall 2008, fall 2009, fall 2010. Michigan State University Section: treasurer, 1990–92.

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

Member: Member of ACS since 1987; Sigma Xi; American Association for the Advancement of Science; ACS divisions: Chemical Education, Environmental Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry.

Related activities: ACS Presidential Chemistry on the Hill Advocacy Workshops, 2017, 2018; ACS Legislative Summit Congressional visits, 2016–18; ACS Experts Training, fall 2013; ACS Sustainability Stakeholders Steering Group, member, 2011; authored over 100 entries in “ACS Celebrates IYC 2011”; ACS national meeting, “Chemistry for a Sustainable World” thematic programming chair, spring 2010; Engaging Disciplinary Societies grant from Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, ACS representative, 2011–12; University of Hartford, Women’s Education & Leadership Fund, board member, 2010–12; University of Hartford, sustainability coordinator, 2010–12.

Pence’s statement

A voice for chemists

Connecting directly with members is of primary importance to me, so in my first term as director for District I, I prioritized visiting as many local sections in the district as possible. Thus far I have been to 12 of the 20 sections, which is a good start, but I still want to do more. I have spent the majority of my career in District I, starting by accompanying my Ph.D. chemist father to my first Binghamton Local Section meeting as an undergraduate. My MIT postdoc placed me in the expansive Northeastern Local Section for three years, and my faculty position at the University of Hartford then moved me to the Connecticut Valley Local Section. My aspiration is to visit each local section at least once and ideally talk with every member in our diverse and vibrant community. I will energetically pursue those opportunities if reelected.

As our members point out to me, we live in turbulent times, and my strongly honed skill set in science policy uniquely equips me to serve ACS and its members. I spent a year on Capitol Hill as an ACS Congressional Science Policy Fellow not long ago, and I have firsthand experience communicating with elected officials, empowering constituents, and applying the expertise and knowledge of science to shape policy that is a win for all sides.


I ask for your vote so that I may continue to communicate nonpartisan priorities for scientists.

A voice on behalf of chemists

In this time of great national political uncertainty, I feel strongly that scientists need to spend time outside their laboratories and classrooms to contribute our expert knowledge of science to the policy-making process. On behalf of all our members, I have immersed myself in the ACS policy process, both ensuring that our public policy statements are strong and clear and that they cover all topics of interest to chemists, such as immigration; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education; fostering innovation and a healthy business climate; and environmental issues. I have visited Capitol Hill and spoken with congressional delegations to ensure that the voice of ACS members is heard. Specifically, the Chemical Safety Board, a small, invaluable federal agency that investigates chemical accidents and shares lessons learned, survived potential closure due in part to my effectively communicating its vital role in improving and sustaining the safety of the chemistry enterprise.

I ask for your vote so that I may continue to be your voice to policy-makers.

Empowering chemists’ own voices

In many of my local section visits, I describe my experiences with science and policy, sketch the current national policy challenges as they affect scientists, and most importantly, explain how individual members can contact and be heard by their elected officials. My goal is to endow all chemists with the knowledge that their voices are important and to remove the mystery from the process of contacting their policy-makers. In 2017 and 2018, I have helped present ACS presidential training workshops on how to create a message and prepare for a visit to a member of Congress. I include some of that advice in my talks, and I would enthusiastically share all of that coaching with any local section or group that is interested. Ultimately, members have far more leverage with their local, state, and federal officials than do outside individuals, and I want members to own that influence if they are interested.

I ask for your vote so that I can continue to empower members to find their own voices.

A voice for members and local sections

In a complex organization such as ACS, it can be challenging for members to direct their questions to the right person in

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