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For director-at-large: Malika Jeffries-EL

by Malika Jeffries-EL, candidate for director-at-large
September 9, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 32


Malika Jeffries-EL.
Credit: Courtesy of Boston University
Malika Jeffries-EL

Northeastern Section. Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Academic record: Wellesley College, BA, 1996; George Washington University, MPhil, 1999, and PhD, 2002.

Honors: C&EN Trailblazer, 2021; ACS Fellow, 2018; ACS Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences, 2015; ACS Women Chemists Committee Rising Star Award, 2012; Percy L. Julian Award, National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), 2021; Alpha Alpha Alpha National Honor Society, 2021; Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Fellow 2021; Iota Sigma Pi Agnes Fay Morgan Award, 2014; Lloyd Ferguson Award, NOBCChE, 2010; National Science Foundation Career Award, 2009; Science Spectrum Magazine Emerald Honors, 2008; 3M Nontenured Faculty Award, 2008.

Professional positions (for the past 10 years): Boston University, associate dean for the graduate school in arts and sciences, 2020–; professor, 2022–; associate professor, 2016–22; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Martin Luther King Visiting Professor, 2014–15; Iowa State University, associate professor, 2012–15, assistant professor, 2005–12.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Committees, member, 2022–24; Committee on Publications, member, 2020–22; Society Committee on Education, committee associate, 2010–13; Women Chemists Committee, committee associate, 2018–19; Younger Chemist Committee, member, 2005–10, committee associate, 2002–04.

Service in ACS offices: Northeastern Section: councilor, 2020–22; alternate councilor, 2018–19; Ames Section: councilor, 2011–15; Organic Chemistry Division: alternate councilor, 2017–18.

Member: Member of ACS since 1999. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), NOBCChE, Sigma Xi. ACS Divisions: Organic; Polymers; Professional Relations; Polymeric Materials Science & Engineering.

Related activities: ACS Board Standing Committee on Strategic Planning, advisor, 2022–; Chemical Science, associate editor, 2022–; ACS Central Science, Editorial Advisory Board, 2021–; C&EN, Editorial Advisory Board, 2009–12, 2021–; ACS Division of Organic Chemistry, member​-at-large, 2014–16; ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry, program committee, 2014–16; Macromolecules, Editorial Advisory Board, 2013–15; Women Chemist of Color Initiative, Advisory Board, 2010–13; COACh, Advisory Board, 2021–; National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemistry Committee of Visitors, co–chair, 2020; Journal of Material Chemistry, associate editor, 2013–22; Chemical Sciences Roundtable (National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine), member, 2017–; RSC Twitter Poster Conference, moderator, 2017–; Boston Wide Women of Color in the Academy, Advisory Committee, 2018–; Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE), Advisory Board, 2013–; AGEP–Graduate Research Supplement Conference, Steering Committee, 2021; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Workshop, Organizing Committee; National Academies of Sciences’ Chemical Science Round Table, 2021; NSF Early Career Investigator Workshop, co-organizer, 2016; authored nearly 50 publications, two patents, two book chapters, and given almost 200 technical talks US and abroad.

Jeffries-EL’s statement

It is an honor to be a candidate for director-at-large. As a low-income, first-generation college student who became a tenured college professor, I am interested in leveraging the plethora of ACS resources to enhance the professional development of its current and future members. My over 20 years of service to ACS, and unique perspective, will make me an asset to the board.

Extraordinary outcomes begin with opportunities

In 1999, I received an ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC) travel award to attend my first ACS national meeting and it was transformative. From this experience, I learned about many of the programs that ACS has to assist young professionals such as career services and the Younger Chemist Committee. I also met many wonderful, supportive people who have mentored me through the years. This opportunity afforded me the necessary resources and encouragement to finish my PhD and embark on what has been a productive career. Reflecting on that experience inspires me to think of ways that ACS can engage with the chemical community and facilitate professional growth. Currently, ACS is well-positioned with local sections at the front line for member engagement, and nationally with many existing activities for career progression from high school students (such as Project SEED) to the Committee on Senior Chemists. However, the current ACS member demographics indicate a lack of participation of underrepresented groups. Through my service on the Board Standing Committee on Strategic Planning, I have helped evaluate ACS messaging and services. My future plans are to continue working with this group to develop ways to attract diverse new talent to the society.

Create pathways not pipelines

ACS has always been at the forefront of chemistry education and must continue innovation in this area to ensure development of an inclusive workforce. Career progression is not linear; thus, we need to generate numerous entry points to maximize talent, including high school students, persons reentering the workforce, recent retirees considering their next steps, and others. Through its many programs, services, and members, ACS has the capacity to respond to this question: Who is missing from the enterprise and what is needed to support their careers? For example, ACS can help faculty at the collegiate level develop an inclusive pedagogy, so that all students interested in chemistry can thrive. Additionally, ACS can increase divisional support for undergraduate research experiences, such as the Division of Organic Chemistry’s summer undergraduate research fellowships (SURF). Finally, ACS can support chemists interested in interdisciplinary careers such as science communication and science policy through its respective centers and fellowships. Through networking, younger chemists can benefit from the experience and wisdom of senior ACS members (an underutilized resource) to advance their careers. Although ACS is an organization with tremendous impact, it still has the potential to do more. My time on the board will be spent on utilizing ACS resources to create new connections and pathways for the professional development of its constituents.

The only thing constant is change

Due to the disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, ACS had to quickly pivot to a virtual platform for national meetings, a major undertaking with mixed results. On one hand, virtual meetings lack the intangible advantages of face-to-face interactions. However, it is important to consider the benefits of this format. The ability to participate in ACS programming without the burden of travel is advantageous to many, including those with care-giving responsibilities, mobility issues, time constraints, limited resources, and those residing outside the US.

Going forward, ACS needs to vet mechanisms to provide quality virtual programming to our members. By doing so, we will increase the participation of many in the society. I will make use of my time on the board to advance the ACS mission and vision while concurrently working to make the society more inclusive. In particular, I am interested in using technology to increase access to ACS events and services.

I am running for the director-at-large position because I see it as an opportunity to be an ambassador for ACS to the community and to be a voice of the community to the board, thereby generating new connections. I possess the relevant experiences and networks to serve in this capacity and would be honored to receive your vote and work with you to make the society better. If you have any ideas, comments, or questions please reach out to me at, Twitter @Chem_diva, and Instagram @chem_diva.


This article was updated on Sept. 14, 2022, to correct Malika Jeffries-EL's name in the headline and in the alt text of the photo. The last name is Jeffries-EL, not Jeffries–El.


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