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For director-at-large: Arlene A. Garrison

by Arlene A. Garrison
September 10, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 33


A photo of Arlene A. Garrison.
Credit: Oak Ridge Associated Universities
Arlene A. Garrison

East Tennessee Section. Oak Ridge Associated Universities, retired, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Academic record: University of Tennessee, BA, chemistry, 1975; University of Tennessee, PhD, chemistry, 1981; University of Tennessee, BS, electrical engineering, 1988.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2014; American Association for the Advancement of Science, fellow, 2020; Fulton High School Wall of Fame, 2018; Community Hero Olympic Torchbearer, 1996; University of Tennessee Knoxville, Professional Development Award, 1994; Chancellors Citation, 1993; Meggers Award, 1982; Phi Beta Kappa; Phi Kappa Phi; Alpha Lambda Delta.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Oak Ridge Associated Universities, vice president, 2010–20; National Science Foundation, program manager, 2008–10; University of Tennessee, associate vice president, 2000–10.

Service in ACS national offices: Senior Chemists Committee, 2019–23, chair, 2019–21, committee associate, 2018; President’s Task Force on National Meetings, 2012–13; Committee on Budget and Finance, 2009–17, committee associate, 2008; Board of Trustees, Group Insurance Plans for Members, 2009–17, vice chair, 2012; Women Chemists Committee, 1998–2007, committee associate, 2007; President’s Task Force on Women’s Issues, 2001.

Service in ACS offices: Business Development and Management Division: past chair, 2019, chair, 2018, chair-elect, 2017. East Tennessee Section: alternate councilor, 2006–23; councilor, 1996–2004; chair, 1992; chair-elect, 1991; secretary, 1989–90. Southeastern Regional Meeting: local arrangements chair, 1999.

Member: Member of ACS since 1979. American Association for the Advancement of Science; National Academy of Inventors; Emory Valley Center Board; Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair Board, 1993–2020; Tau Beta Pi Alumnus Board, 2011–20. ACS Division: Analytical Chemistry; Business Development and Management; Chemical Education.

Related activities: Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree, Chemistry Merit Badge, 2010, 2013, 2017; Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies Conference, general chair, 2000; Council for Chemical Research, Governing Board, 2000–02; Knoxville and Knox County Public Building Authority, 1995–2008, chair 2000–02; Coblentz Society, president, 1997–98; University of Tennessee Chemistry Department Board of Visitors, 1994–2020.

Garrison’s statement

ACS has been a major element of my career, and I credit the organization and the opportunity to work with others in ACS for my career success. Yet, many chemists do not choose to engage with ACS. The power of the organization depends upon members and volunteers. Working together, we advance the field of chemistry.

So, how do we encourage others to take advantage of the opportunities—to join ACS and to be engaged in activities?

It is critical that we understand our current and potential members and meet their needs. ACS has been making significant steps in this direction. Resources must be reallocated and applied to areas with potential for high growth. Volunteers must have opportunities for meaningful contribution in areas of personal interest. The society must represent all chemists. The new ACS Strategic Plan goal in support for diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect is particularly important as we work together to remove systemic racism in chemistry and tap the potential of our entire community.

As a candidate for one of two director-at-large positions on the ACS Board of Directors, I will represent the chemistry community. During my 30-year career at the University of Tennessee, I moved from teaching to administration and focused on applied multidisciplinary research. One of my favorite roles at UT was in the technology transfer office, supporting faculty with inventions and spin-off companies. I was also privileged to spend 2 years at the National Science Foundation under an Interagency Program Agreement, where I worked with major statewide and multistate grants. I retired from UT as associate vice president for research, and immediately took a position as vice president for University Partnerships at Oak Ridge Associated Universities. ORAU is consortium of more than 120 major research universities and a government contractor. Like ACS, ORAU is a not-for-profit large business, and my experience on the ORAU leadership team provides the business understanding and insight needed by members of the ACS board.

My range of experience in academia, business, start-ups, and as a government contractor helps me understand the different perspectives of chemists in different work cultures. Within ACS, I have chaired the East Tennessee Local Section, the Division of Business Development and Management, and the Senior Chemists Committee. ACS members look to their local sections, divisions, and committees to provide community while addressing their needs and concerns.

My career has been a lot of work, and a tremendous amount of fun. My selection as a fellow of both ACS and AAAS was very rewarding. I retired in 2020, and now have the time to invest in ACS. The ACS strategic plan is an excellent map, which will move the society in a solid direction. Strategic direction means we will need to measure impact and sunset some activities, which may not be popular. I welcome your comments and questions and would appreciate one of your votes for 2022 director-at-large. Please visit my website at

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