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Elections

For director-at-large: Kristin M. Omberg

by Kristin M. Omberg
September 4, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 34

 

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Credit: Andrea Starr/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Kristin M. Omberg

Richland Section. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, Washington.

Academic record: Gonzaga University, BS, chemistry, 1993, BA, philosophy, 1993; University of North Carolina, PhD, chemistry, 1998, Doctoral Certificate, public policy analysis, 1998; Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), postdoctoral fellow, 1999–2001.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2012; ACS Congressional Fellowship, 1998–99; LANL Distinguished Performance Awards, 2015 and 2001; US Secret Service Certificates of Appreciation for Outstanding Support to the Democratic National Convention, 2008, 2004; LANL Women’s Career Development Outstanding Mentor Award, 2005; US Department of Homeland Security, Certificate of Appreciation for Service to National Security Special Events, 2004; R&D 100 Award, 2003; LANL Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1999–2001; Sigma Xi; American Council of Teachers of Russian, Gold Medal, Northwest Spoken Russian Olympiada, 1989.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): PNNL, group leader, Chemical and Biological Signatures, 2015–; LANL, R&D manager, technical staff member, 2001–15.

Service in ACS national offices: Board of Trustees, Group Insurance Plans, 2017–present; Committee on Budget and Finance, 2014–present, chair, 2015, committee associate, 2009–13; Council Policy Committee, (nonvoting), 2015; Board Committee on Planning, 2015; Board Committee on Executive Compensation, 2015; Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs, 2004–12, chair, 2008–10, committee associate, 2001–03; ACS Presidential Taskforce on Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness, 2007–08; ACS Presidential Taskforce on the Department of Energy, 2002.

Service in ACS offices: Richland Section: past chair, 2020; chair, 2019; chair-elect, 2018; Government Affairs Committee, chair, 2020. Central New Mexico Section: councilor, 2014–16; past chair, 2015; chair, 2014; chair-elect, 2013; National Chemistry Olympiad coordinator, 2014–15; executive adviser, 2012–13.

Member: Member of ACS since 1994. American Association for the Advancement of Science; Association for Women in Science; Sigma Xi.

Related activities: Organizer, moderator, Averting Catastrophic Biological Incidents in the Future, 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting; organizer, presider, Synthetic Biology: The State of the Science, ACS 256th National Meeting, 2018; creator, bplat.pnnl.gov, a biodefense policy website; organizer/presider, Symposium on Congressional Science Fellows, ACS 230th National Meeting, 2005; organizer, presider, Award Symposium for Thomas J. Meyer, ACS 223rd National Meeting, 2002; invited participant, How to Fund Science: The Future of Medical Research, sponsored by AAAS, 1999; Sigma Xi Annual Forum Steering Committee, 1997–98; 36 publications in peer-reviewed journals; three book chapters in the areas of inorganic chemistry and biology; one book chapter on career opportunities for chemists in government; author or coauthor of more than 100 controlled publications, technical reports, and federal interagency guidance.

Omberg’s statement

It is an honor to be a candidate for ACS director-at-large. Thank you for taking time to evaluate my qualifications and vision. As a former councilor, two-time committee chair, two-time local section chair, and ACS congressional fellow, I am passionate about ACS’s mission, and I am asking for your vote so I can bring my unique perspective and experiences to the board.

ACS and its members are experiencing an unprecedented period of disruption—and opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we interact and conduct business. Virtual is becoming the norm rather than the exception, and this is impacting our national meetings and governance activities. More than ever, professional societies and nonprofits like ACS must be innovative and adaptive in engaging their members. ACS is in the midst of a multiyear evaluation of membership, and it is imperative that we continue. It is also time to rethink the society’s web presence, to ensure we are well positioned for the increasingly virtual future. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the value of ACS as a community: a place where members can come together to network, develop their professional skills, and share their love of chemistry. The virtual environment will always have disadvantages in these areas, and ACS must carefully consider how to balance the benefits of in-person interactions with the risk.

Public skepticism and anti-science biases are impacting the scientific community and the nation. ACS must continue to play an active role in explaining how science benefits society, including highlighting the role of chemistry in responding to COVID-19. For several years, we’ve seen an increasing politicization of science. The Pew Research Center’s 2019 American Trends Panel poll, however, gives me reason for optimism. Public confidence in scientists is on the rise, and 82% of Americans expect future scientific developments to positively impact society. The visibility of scientific research and the opportunity for it to impact society have never been higher than they are today. Chemistry is the central science: it is critical to understanding how pathogens impact their hosts, how to design better masks and decontaminate surfaces, and how to develop and assess the effectiveness of a vaccine. ACS must position its public communications and advocacy programs to ensure that policy makers and the public understand the essential role chemistry is playing in mitigating the pandemic, as well as other areas.

In a changing global economy, it is imperative to promote programs and policies that take a long-term perspective so that we advance science and employment prospects in the future as well as today. In 1999, I was the ACS Congressional fellow. I worked on the US Senate Committee on the Budget, organizing hearings on doubling the budget of the National Institutes of Health. I learned firsthand in that role that the real impacts of federal policies are felt years or even decades after decisions are made. Today’s decisions about basic research funding, education, and immigration will impact us in 2021 and in 2050. As a premier advocacy organization, ACS has a mandate to promote policies that support its members’ interests in the short and long term. Today, it’s difficult to look past the next election, but ACS must be working to influence the next decade, or several decades, through policy. I will work to ensure resources are available for ACS to effectively engage the federal agencies, while continuing to support our successful programs on Capitol Hill.

As a member of the Board, I will consider it my duty to communicate the “what,” “why,” and “how.” The Board of Directors has been streamlining society processes for several years, but ACS remains a ­complex and sometimes confusing organization. As a member and former chair of the Society Committee on Budget & Finance, I have made it a priority to understand the “what,” “why,” and “how” of the society’s financial decisions and to communicate them to members. For example, I’ve published C&EN comments on how dues revenues are allocated (C&EN, Nov. 2, 2015, page 47), and how dues increases are determined (C&EN, May 9, 2016, page 34). I will continue to work to understand and communicate decisions to you as a member of the Board.

I appreciate your consideration of my statement, and I would be honored to represent you as director-at-large. You can find more information on my qualifications or leave feedback at kristinmomberg.wordpress.com.

Candidates will not be notified of comments left on this web page. To contact this candidate directly, email kristin.omberg@pnnl.gov.

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