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For District II director: Ellene Tratras Contis

September 8, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 35


A photo of Ellene Tratras Contis.
Credit: Kat Foley Photography
Ellene Tratras Contis

Huron Valley Section. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Academic record: Youngstown State University, BS, chemistry, 1968; University of Pittsburgh, MS, chemistry, 1971; University of Michigan, PhD, analytical chemistry, 2000.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2015; Fulbright Specialist Scholar, 2014–19; Michigan Philanthropy Award, Distinguished Volunteer for Women in Philanthropy at EMU, fall 2012; Institutional Award for Cross-Divisional Work on the Research Undergraduate Symposium, 2003; Michigan Association of Governing Boards’ Distinguished Faculty, 1993; Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence at Eastern Michigan University, 1979; North American delegate/participant to the 4th International Forum on Academics and Science (one of 12 academicians from North America), Thessaloníki, Greece, December 2001, to develop worldwide policies for science linkages; American Council on Education Fellow nominee from Eastern Michigan University, 1997.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Eastern Michigan University, professor of chemistry, 1971–, director, Creative Scientific Inquiry Experiences program, 2005–, associate vice president, Undergraduate Studies and Curriculum, 2004–6, assistant vice president, Academic Administrative Services, 2002–4, dean interim, College of Arts and Sciences, 2001–2, associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences, 1994–2001, director, Women’s Studies Program, 1992–94, faculty administrative intern, College of Arts and Sciences, 1990–91; Phoenix Memorial Laboratory and Ford Nuclear Reactor, researcher, University of Michigan (short-lived products of 235U), 1983–2001.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs, 2019–20, Subcommittee on Policy and Ethics, 2018, committee associate, 2018; Committee on International Activities, 2009–17, chair, 2016–17; Subcommittee 2 on Europe and the Middle East, chair, 2013–16, associate member, 2005–8; Committee on Nominations and Elections, Vote 20/20 Task Force, 2017–18; Task Force CPC LRP Subcommittee, 2017–18; Task Force, CPT on Council Resources, 2018.

Service in ACS offices: Huron Valley Section: councilor, 2009–20; alternate councilor, 2003–8; chair, 2009; chair-elect, 2008; secretary, 2006–8; various regional conference outreach committees.

Member: Member of ACS since 1972; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Michigan College Chemistry Teachers Association; Alpha Chi Sigma; Phi Lambda Upsilon Honorary Chemical Society; ACS divisions: Chemical Education, Computers in Chemistry.

Related activities: USNC/IUPAC member, 2016–; Agricultural and Food Division, organizer of International Flavor Conferences, 2012, 2009, 2004, 2000, 1997; ACS BOOST Train-the-Trainer Institutes, 2016, 2015; ACS Global Chemical Code of Ethics Workshop, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2016; Asia Pacific International Chapters Conference and the International Chapter Summit, Jeju Island, South Korea, 2017; IAC: Water Innovation Treatment and Solutions, Singapore, 2014; ACS national meetings, coorganizer: Indianapolis, 2013: Water: Global Problems, Local Solution; San Francisco, 2017: IREU symposium, “Teaching, Researching, and Community Building in the Global Chemical Enterprise”; Workshop facilitator on grant writing sponsored by US State Department at four universities in Peru, 2016: Arequipa, Lima, Trujillo; ACS Global Chemists Code of Ethics Science and Technology Training Institute: Melbourne AUS; ComSci Strategic Planning Retreat; MAC Strategic Planning Retreat, 2017; ACS symposium book Responsible Conduct in Chemistry Research and Practice: Global Perspectives, lead editor; NSF STEP program reviewer, 2006–8; EMU, Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program reviewer, 2009–; ACS GREET reviewer for international research collaborations between the US and foreign countries, 2011–12; Journal of Chemical Educationand Analyst, manuscript reviewer, ongoing. EMU, Keal Research Awards, reviewer for the Commission on Women, 2012–; EMU, Women in Philanthropy, reviewer and cochair for research awards, 2010–; NSF STEP Review Panel for STEP, Washington, DC, 2006–8; Pan-Icarian Foundation, chair, 2019, director, 1997–99, 2014–; Pan-Icarian Brotherhood of America (PIB) of North America, president, 1995–96; Scholarship Selection Committee, 2001–3; EMU: CAS Resource Development Board, 1996–2002; Institute for Diversity in Business Services Board, 1996–98; PAIDEIA of Michigan, founding member and officer, 2000–2005; Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, volunteer, Ypsilanti MI, 2018–19.

Tratras Contis’s statement

Who am I? A petition candidate for District II director nominated by a large number of a wide variety of District II members. I have been involved for many years as a volunteer in American Chemical Society activities at the local, regional, national, and international levels. I thank the many members in District II who had confidence in me by signing my nomination.

Why am I running? In these difficult times, our society and the chemistry enterprise in general has global issues: scarcity of research funds, employment placements, and young talented students who shun chemistry as their profession. These are issues perceived by the general public as low esteem for chemistry.

Am I the right person? Yes. Everyone at ACS, both staff and volunteers, are working to resolve these issues. I want to add my voice, talents, and skill set to the conversation as well.

No one has an overnight solution. We need increased cooperation between academia, government, and industry. We are all in this together! I have lifelong experience in ACS governance. With due modesty, I have the capability and unbroken determination to work toward solutions. Most importantly, I have the time.

What will I do if elected? District II includes the heartland of industry, education, and governmental labs. From Detroit through Pittsburgh and Indiana to the Carolinas, we have many ties to great universities, global industries and businesses, and research laboratories that are well respected across the globe. To sustain membership and grow our influence, we need to train our students to be the best STEM workforce. We need partnerships between industry, universities, and national laboratories.

How do we do this? I founded and have been running a successful program, Creative Scientific Inquiry Experiences (CSIE), since 2005 at my university. It is a supportive set of experiences for our students and our partners. Through these experiences, we have gone beyond the imparting of content and have shown our students what it is to work in the STEM fields. Our industry and research laboratories have partnered with us to enhance curricula, set up teams to solve real problems, and communicate that work to the public. In this way, we improve the public image of chemistry, enable students to get real-world experiences, and to hit the ground running when they seek employment. We are building bridges of collaboration between all three in our district and will expand it to national level as well.

What’s in it for you? I will put all my efforts into guiding ACS in accord with our mission and vision to ensure that ACS meets the needs of our members and our profession.

Future goals/plans. In everything we do as ACS volunteers, we are committed to ACS’s core values: passion for the global chemistry enterprise; member focus; professionalism, safety, ethics; diversity, inclusion, and respect. We believe these values lead to solutions to world challenges and advance chemistry as a global, multidisciplinary science.

Our collective vision is also my vision. My focus is your focus on the following:

Public image of chemistry. The general public does not appreciate the benefits they receive from chemical developments. The media concentrates on the 1% of problems and not the 99% of benefits. Politicians withhold funds for research and create restrictive regulations. Employers move jobs to places more favorable to chemistry. The negative image disillusions younger generations who select professions they think are more favorable to improving society and humanity.

Membership. In the past, chemists joined ACS for professional pride, to participate in meetings, and subscribe to journals. Today, many of those attending meetings have their employers pay registration. Journals are easily available through libraries or electronically. Today’s chemistry practitioner expects benefits for membership.

Can we solve the problems? Yes, we can, together. One director, or even the whole board cannot do it overnight. Leadership and grassroots efforts are needed to improve the image of chemistry. I will work with you, the member. I will inspire you to help at the grassroots level by proposing a series of listening sessions at regional, local section, and chapter meetings. These focus-group discussions will identify our collective needs that we will prioritize and develop implementation plans, following a timeline. We will celebrate our successes and pivot as we need. And as my father always said to me, “Whatever you do, do it well.” I will.

It would be my honor to serve District II members and would greatly appreciate your vote. Visit my website at www.­

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