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For director-at-large: Ellene Tratras Contis

by Ellene Tratras Contis, candidate for director-at-large
September 9, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 32


Ellene Tratras Contis.
Credit: Kat Foley Photography
Ellene Tratras Contis

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

Academic record: Youngstown State University, BS, 1968; University of Pittsburgh, MS, 1971; University of Michigan, PhD, 2001.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2015; Fulbright Specialist Scholar, 2014–19; Michigan Philanthropy Award, Distinguished Volunteer for Women in Philanthropy, Eastern Michigan University, 2012; Institutional Award for Cross-Divisional Work on the Research Undergraduate Symposium, 2003; Michigan Association of Governing Boards’ Distinguished Faculty, 1993; Eastern Michigan University Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, 1979; 4th International Forum on Academics and Science-North American delegate, Greece, 2001; American Council on Education Fellow nominee, Eastern Michigan University, 1997.

Professional positions (for the past 10 years): Eastern Michigan University, distinguished professor, 1971–; Creative Scientific Inquiry Experiences, founder and director, 2005–22; President’s Commission on Women, chair, 2020–22.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs, member, 2019, Subcommittee on Policy and Ethics, 2018–, committee associate, 2018; Committee on International Activities, member, 2009–17, chair, 2016–17, Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, chair, 2013–16, associate member, 2005–08; Committee on Nominations and Elections, Vote 20/20 Task Force, 2017–18; Council Policy Committee, Long Range Planning Subcommittee, 2017–18; Committee on Professional Training, Council Resources Task Force, 2018.

Service in ACS offices: Huron Valley Section: councilor, 2009–23; alternate councilor, 2003–08; chair, 2009; chair-elect, 2008; secretary, 2006–08; various regional conference outreach committees.

Member: Member of ACS since 1972. American Association for the Advancement of Science; US National Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry; Michigan College Chemistry Teachers Association; Alpha Chi Sigma; Phi Lambda Upsilon Honorary Chemical Society. ACS Division: Chemical Education.

Related activities: Agricultural & Food Division International Flavor Conferences, co-​organizer, 2012, 2009, 2004, 2000, 1997; ACS Building Opportunity Out of Science and Technology (BOOST) Train-the-Trainer Institutes, co-organizer, 2016, 2015; ACS Global Chemical Code of Ethics (GCCE) Workshop, co-organizer, 2016; Asia Pacific International Chapters Conference, co-​organizer, 2017; International Activities Committee: Water Innovation Treatment and Solutions (WITS), co-organizer, 2014; ACS Fall 2013, co-organizer; ACS Spring 2017, Water: Global Problems, Local Solution symposium, co-​organizer; Teaching, Researching & Community Building in the Global Chemical Enterprise workshop, co-organizer, 2017; Global Workforce Facilitator workshops, Thailand, Australia, co-​organizer, 2016; ACS Global Chemists Code of Ethics Science and Technology Training Institute, co-​organizer, 2017; Committee on Science Strategic Planning Retreat, Membership Activities Committee Strategic Planning Retreat, co-organizer, 2017; ACS symposium book, Responsible Conduct in Chemistry Research and Practice: Global Perspectives, lead editor, 2018; various ACS National Awards selection committees; various National Science Foundation programs, reviewer, 2006–; Journal of Chemical Education and Analyst, manuscript reviewer, ongoing; Eastern Michigan University, associate vice-president and assistant vice-president for academic affairs, dean and associate dean, Women’s Studies, director, 1992–2006; Pan-Icarian Foundation, chair, 2019–; director, 1997–99, 2014–; Pan-​Icarian Brotherhood of America of America, president, 1995–96; CAS Resource Development Board, 1996–2002; Institute for Diversity in Business Services Board, 1996–98; PAIDEIA of Michigan, 2000–05; Michigan Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, volunteer, 2018–19.

Tratras Contis’s statement

Who am I?

A candidate for director-at-large on the ACS Board of Directors. I have been involved for many years as a volunteer member in American Chemical Society activities at the local, regional, national, and international levels. The Nominations & Elections Committee recognized my experience, accomplishments, and devotion by placing my name on the ballot for ACS director-at-large.

Why am I running?

In these times, our society and the chemistry enterprise have global issues: scarcity of research funds, employment placements, and young talented students who shun chemistry as their profession. 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 government, industry, and academia. We are all in this together!

What will I do if elected?

ACS has many ties to great universities, global industries and businesses, and research laboratories that are well respected around the globe. To sustain membership and grow our influence, we need to train our students to be the best possible science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. We need partnerships between industry, universities, and national laboratories to achieve this.

How do we do this?

Broadening participation in STEM by promoting diversity and inclusion is a central goal of national STEM education reform. At my university, I founded and have been directing a successful program for our first and second-year STEM students called Creative Scientific Inquiry Experiences (CSIE), since 2005. We have built bridges of collaboration between all three sectors and expanded the model internationally through the Fulbright Program. Students work with our community partners to solve real-world issues with research-based activities enabling them to hit the ground running when they seek employment.

Successes include:

Larger number of CSIE students enroll in introductory chemistry courses (CSIE 71%; non-CSIE 21%).

78% of students enrolled in CSIE graduated within four years, as compared to 45% of university students not enrolled in CSIE.

Increased participation among underserved student groups (18% growth in females and 37% growth among female African American students).

Future goals and plans

In everything we do as member volunteers, we are committed to ACS’s core values: passion for chemistry and the global chemistry enterprise; focus on members; professionally, safety, and ethics; diversity, equity, 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. As we know, the public sometimes fears our data and often does not appreciate the benefits of chemical developments. Politicians withhold funds for research. Employers move jobs to places more favorable for profits. The negative image can disillusion 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. These last few years, even though difficult, have enhanced opportunities for us in the chemical enterprise, through novel and innovative ways to attend meetings, both in person and remotely, alternative networking opportunities, and an amazing new membership structure. I will certainly do my best to continue to support these enhancements.

Can we solve the problems?

Yes, we can, together. One director-​at-large, or even the entire board, cannot solve issues overnight. Leadership and grassroots efforts are needed to improve the image of chemistry. I will inspire and work with you by proposing a series of listening sessions at regional, local section, and chapter meetings. I will keep you routinely informed about my activities and in asking for your input.

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 chemistry enterprise. These focus-group discussions will identify our collective needs, so that we can prioritize, develop, and implement plans for action. We will celebrate our successes and pivot as needed.

I have lifelong experience in ACS governance. With due modesty, I have the capability and unbroken determination to work towards solutions. Most importantly, I have the time. As my father always said to me, “Whatever you do, do it well”, and so, I will! I offer my obligation and devotion to improving the chemical enterprise and my experience and time to serve our society as director-​at-large. I would greatly appreciate your vote. Please visit my website at


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