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For District IV director: Rigoberto Hernandez

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


A photo of Rigoberto Hernandez
Credit: Peter Cutts photograpy
Rigoberto Hernandez

Georgia Section. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Academic record: Princeton University, BSE, 1989; University of California, Berkeley, PhD, 1993.

Honors: Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences, SERMACS, 2018; Herty Medal, 2017; ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, 2014; Outstanding Service Award, ACS Georgia Section, 2012; ACS Fellow, 2010; Transformational Research and Excellence in Education Award, Research Corporation, 2016; Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, 2015–16; Diversity Award, Council of Chemical Research, 2015; Diversity Champion Award, Georgia Tech, 2013; APS Fellow, 2011; Vasser Woolley Faculty Fellow, Georgia Tech, 2011–13; Sackler Visiting Chair in Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 2010; Humboldt Research Fellow, 2006–8; American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2005; Goizueta Foundation junior professor, Georgia Tech, 2002–6; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2000; Sigma Xi Southeast Regional Young Investigator, 2002, 2000; Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar, 1999; Blanchard Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Georgia Tech, 1999–2001; National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 1997; Feinberg Postdoctoral Fellow, 1994; AT&T CRFP Fellow, 1989–93; NSF Graduate Fellow, 1989–92; and Sigma Xi, Member, 1994.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Johns Hopkins University, Gompf Family Professor, 2016–; Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE), director, 2011–; Georgia Institute of Technology, adjunct professor, 2016–18, professor, 2009–16, associate professor, 2002–9, codirector, Center for Computational Molecular Sciences and Technology, 2000–2016.

Service in ACS national offices: Journal of Physical Chemistry, Editorial Advisory Board 2019–; Board of Directors, director, District IV, 2014–19; councilor ex officio, 2014–19; Committee on Budget and Finance, 2016–21, associate member, 2015; Committee on Professional and Member Relations, 2018–19, 2014; Committee on Grants and Awards, 2014–16; Committee on Science, associate member, 2013; ACS National Award Selection Committee from 2010–2012; Committee on Committees, 2009–12; Committee on Divisional Activities, 2004–8; Joint DAC/LSAC Subcommittee, cochair, 2005–7; Board Committee on “Minorities in Academe Implementation Team,” 2003–4; Hildebrandt Award Canvassing Committee, 2002–4.

Service in ACS offices: Georgia Section: bylaw councilor, 2012; alternate councilor, 2012–13; councilor, 2003–11; past chair, 2000; chair, 1999; chair-elect, 1998; Herty Award Selection Committee, chair, 2006–16; 75th Herty Medal Celebration, chair, 2009; Herty Medal Undergraduate Research Symposium, founding chair, 2006–10. Computers in Chemistry Division:alternate councilor, 2013.

Member: Member of ACS since 1992; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Physical Society; Biophysical Society; ACS divisions: Computers in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry.

Related activities: Science and Software Advisory Board, Molecular Sciences Software Institute, 2017–19, chair, 2019, vice-chair, 2018; Academic Leadership Training Workshop, cofounder and chair, 2016–; Scialog Review Committee, Chemical Machinery of the Cell, Research Corporation, 2018–20; Minority NSF STEM PhD Advisory Committee, Sloan Foundation, 2013–; STEM Education Review Committee, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2015–16; Executive Board, Georgia Tech faculty, 2013–16; NIH MSFB Study Section, 2009–13; Research Corporation Cottrell Scholars Advisory Committee Member, 2011–17, chair, 2016–17; National Academies Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, 2007–10; Board of Directors of Telluride Science Research Center, 2007–9; External Review Committee for Morehouse College Chemistry Department, 2007; Steering Committee for NSF Workshop on Complexity and Emergent Phenomenon, 2007; Steering Committee for NSF Workshop on Excellence Empowered by a Diverse Workforce, 2007; National Academies Committee on Revealing Chemistry through Advanced Chemical Imaging, 2005–6; published over 125 peer-reviewed articles.

Hernandez’s statement

I can barely believe that I started on this journey as your district director 6 years ago. Our world was a very different place then, but one thing remains constant: the need for ACS to advance chemical science and technology in the service of our society, our members, and you. Throughout my time on the board, I have focused on three of ACS’s core values: the value proposition of ACS membership, science advocacy, and education of the chemical workforce. My efforts in these areas are visible through my committee service roles, and I have promoted them through oral presentations and written articles. I’ve been privileged to serve because it has allowed me to meet many of you at local section meetings, our regional meetings, and national meetings.

As you have likely heard countless times, the power of ACS lies in part in the fact that we are a group of over 150,000 members. In “ACS: Your Brick-and-Mortar and Virtual Network All in One” (C&EN, March 5, 2018, page 34), I argued that it is this authentic fellowship among our very diverse membership that drives us to be members. We are diverse among many vectors, including geography, gender, ethnicity, degree earned, professional and academic career stage, employment sector, etc. That is why I have emphasized bringing diversity and inclusion to the ACS table (C&EN, March 4, 2019, page 41). We share a commonality in our interest in chemical science and technology. Some of us are no longer practicing chemistry in the sense of what we learned directly in school. Yet we continue to be “chemists”—that is, ACS members—because we retain a logic and approach to solving problems that is rooted in our discipline. Moreover, through our membership, we remain connected to others like you and me. This can only happen if you and everyone reading this statement retains their membership. I am driven to work on the board so as to ensure that we remain true to ourselves, so that you and I will remain as members, and many more will become members too.

One of the opportunities afforded by the strength of our society is the possibility to advocate for science and the infrastructure to advance it. As a member of the board, I have routinely worked with staff to advocate on behalf of public support for science advancement. As federal science budgets remain flat or are decreasing, the burden of such support has increasingly fallen on the hands of private philanthropy. Recognizing this as an opportunity, rather than a burden, I wrote in C&EN (Sept. 21, 2015, page 33) about the need for private funding of the high-risk, high-reward projects that are essential for future advances. Increasingly, the solutions require us to use tools from our broad discipline. That is, we should think beyond our subdisciplines and work together to use “OneChemistry” tools (C&EN, April 24, 2017, page 41). Fortunately, this kind of convergence resonates with the interests of potential financial supporters of our research, as they drive us toward use-inspired basic research. It also resonates with the growth of our society journals helping define chemistry more broadly.

All of this is for naught if we don’t maintain our educational mission. The Project SEED and ACS Scholars programs are vital as they provide direct support for the next generation of chemists. I applaud Fraser Stoddart and Peter Dorhout for championing these programs and encouraging all of us to do so with financial gifts. We need to do this and more to support basic education and future research. But education doesn’t stop at degrees conferred. I learned from the ACS Leadership Development system just how important it is to lead when running my research group, running OXIDE, and yes, serving you on the board. This led me to construct the Academic Leadership Training Workshop (C&EN, March 7, 2016, page 47), which was staged for the fourth time in February 2019 and has now served more than 120 midcareer professors.

Finally, in my role on the board I have had the opportunity to visit several local sections, including my very own Georgia, Greater Houston, South Florida, Nashville, Puerto Rico, and the hosting sections of several SERMACS and SWRM regional meetings in District IV. The common thread is the enthusiasm, talent, and engagement of our students and our fellow ACS volunteers. I hope that I will have your vote so that I can continue to drive an agenda to advance our ACS and so that I can continue to meet you and others at future local section visits. Visit my website at

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