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For president-elect: Angela K. Wilson

by Angela K. Wilson
September 4, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 34


This is a photo of Angela K. Wilson
Credit: Harley J. Seeley
Angela K. Wilson

Michigan State University Section. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

Academic record: Eastern Washington University, BS, chemistry, 1990; University of Minnesota, PhD, chemical physics, 1995.

Honors: Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, ACS, 2015; Wilfred T. Doherty Award, Dallas Fort Worth Section, ACS, 2014; ACS, fellow, 2010; Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Minnesota, 2020; Robert S. Mulliken Lecturer, University of Georgia, 2019; Karcher-Barton Lecturer, University of Oklahoma, 2019; Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, 2018; American Physical Society, fellow, 2013; International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Distinguished Woman in Chemistry Award, 2013; American Association for the Advancement of Science, fellow, 2012; Quantum Systems in Chemistry and Physics Promising Scientist Award of Centre de Mécanique Ondulatoire Appliquée, 2010; National Associate of the National Academies, 2008; Eastern Washington University Alumni Achievement Award, 2006; Wiley International Journal of Quantum Chemistry Young Investigator Award, 2004; NSF CAREER Award, 2003; NSF POWRE Award, 1999; University of North Texas (UNT) Eminent Scholar Award, 2015; UNT Decker Scholar Award, 2013–15; UNT Foundation Faculty Leadership Award, 2013; UNT Foundation Distinguished Lecturer, 2012; UNT Foundation Research Leadership Award, 2011, UNT Foundation Research Scholar Award, 2009; UNT Foundation Toulouse Scholars Award, 2009.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Michigan State University (MSU): associate dean for strategic initiatives, MSU College of Natural Sciences, 2020–, director of the MSU Center for Quantum Computing, Science, and Engineering, 2019–; John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry, 2016–; National Science Foundation, Chemistry Division director, 2016–18; University of North Texas (UNT): associate vice provost, 2015–16, faculty fellow, Office of the Provost, 2013–15, director of the UNT Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling, 2005–16; Regents Professor, 2011–16, professor, 2009–11, Department of Chemistry.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Budget and Finance, committee associate, 2019–20; Council Policy Committee, 2014–16; ACS National Award Selection Committee, 2013–15, chair, 2015; Committee on Nominations and Elections 2009–13, vice-chair, 2013, secretary, 2011–12; Committee on Science: 2007–09, committee associate, 2005–06; ACS Leadership Development System, course facilitator, 2019–; Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of Physical Chemistry, 2010–12.

Service in ACS offices: Division of Physical Chemistry: councilor, 2020–, 2014–16, Executive Committee, 2020–22, 2010–16. Dallas-Fort Worth Section: councilor, 2004–14, alternate councilor, 2003–14, Executive Committee, 2003–14. Oklahoma Section: chair-elect, 2000.

Member: Member of ACS since 1990. IUPAC Division of Physical and Biophysical Chemistry: titular member, 2010–, past president, 2018–19, president, 2016–17, vice-president, 2014–15, secretary, 2012–13, associate member, 2006–09; US National Committee for IUPAC, 2007–, chair, 2014–15, vice-chair, 2012–13; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Chemistry Section, chair, 2020–; American Physical Society, Division of Computational Physics: member-at-large, 2008–11, Nominating Committee chair, 2012; IUPAC General Assembly: US delegate, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, young observer, 2003, 2005. ACS Divisions: Computers in Chemistry; Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Catalysis Science and Technology, Organic Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Nuclear Chemistry & Technology, Energy and Fuels, Environmental, Fluorine Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, Chemical Education, Professional Relations.

Related activities: Cell Reports Physical Science, Editorial Advisory Board, 2019–; Scientific Reports, Editorial Board, 2014–; Pure and Applied Chemistry, guest editor, 2018–, Editorial Advisory Board, 2016–7; Pacifichem, symposium organizer, 2015, 2021; IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry Award and Recognition Program, Organizer, 2015–; Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Program, 2019–; State of Michigan Legislative Leadership Program, 2019. Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, editor, 2014–19, Editorial Advisory Board, 2011–14; Gordon Research Conference on Computational Chemistry, chair, 2018, vice-chair, 2016; International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, Editorial Advisory Board, 2011–18; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory User Advisory Board: member, 2007–16, past chair, 2015–16, chair, 2013–14, vice chair, 2011–12; Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, 2012; Leadership Texas, 2003; edited five books including Pioneers of Quantum Chemistry (ACS Books) and Electron Correlation Methodology (ACS Books); published 160+ journal articles and book chapters.

Wilson’s statement

I am honored to be considered for president-elect of the American Chemical Society. Throughout my career—and for so many of us—ACS has been an invaluable resource for science, scientific news, networking, training, education, career information, employment opportunities, international opportunities, chemical safety, and so much more. The continued vitality of ACS over time can be attributed to our involved membership, excellent ACS staff, and our adaptability in times of change and unanticipated change. In considering the future of ACS, and in alignment with the ACS Strategic Plan, we need to do the following:

Empower and equip: Education, training, and careers are at the forefront of our society. ACS plays an important role at all levels of education. Motivating career interests in the chemical sciences and ensuring that our future workforce is well equipped for the changing needs of the chemical enterprise, from more-extensive safety education to training in data science and analytics, are critical. Training and transition opportunities are important to address the changing needs of our membership, from job transitions to career enrichment. More effective routes to supporting our unemployed or underemployed members are important, particularly in light of downsizing, outsourcing, and relocating operations.

Communicate and advocate: We must improve communication to the public and to policy makers about the importance of the chemical sciences on our national and global economies, health, national security, and daily lives. Many nations are investing heavily in the sciences and STEM education. In the US, federal investments in science have been mostly flat for more than a decade. At the state level, K–12 schools often must reduce or eliminate chemistry laboratory offerings because of reduced budgets and safety concerns, which can shortchange student preparation. As the largest scientific society in the world, ACS needs to more-strongly emphasize the chemical sciences at the state and federal levels to gain greater traction and support in areas that include education, workforce development, R&D, and manufacturing in chemistry. There is a significant gap between our exciting discoveries and the public’s knowledge and understanding of our work. This became clear to me during my service as head of the NSF Division of Chemistry. There I saw firsthand the extraordinary work being done by so many in our field, and the limited national leadership recognition of this work and the impact of decreasing R&D investments as compared to those of a number of other countries. ACS needs to further its role as a conduit to address this communication gap by providing increased training on communicating science to the public, aiding the public in understanding science, and inspiring a greater appreciation of the chemical sciences.

Diversify and amplify: Current ACS membership does not mirror the diversity of our society. While ACS has made important strides to improve and embrace diversity, further efforts are needed. There are pathways to pursue as a society, including partnering with other organizations such as NOBCChE and SACNAS, to be the innovator and broker of new opportunities that enhance diversity. ACS should also provide greater opportunities than currently exist for collaboration between industry, academia, and government scientists and organizations. The multiplicative effects can be extraordinary, impacting discovery and workforce training.

Adapt and innovate: A thriving society is dependent upon its membership. A challenge that ACS has been facing for many years is declining membership. It is vital that ACS maintains currency and ensures the lasting value and impact of society membership at all career stages, particularly in our increasingly multidisciplinary and ever-evolving environment. Further steps toward the support of our local sections and divisions—which play a key role to the experiences of so many of our members—are essential to our continued success, adaptability, and innovation.

The list of ACS strengths and offerings is immense. The global leadership of ACS in the chemical sciences has been paramount. Relationships have been built and continue to be built with international and multidisciplinary scientific societies and other organizations to address global challenges in research, technology, manufacturing, safety, training, and education. ACS has the strongest journal portfolio in chemistry in the world, which continues to expand and withstand the intense and growing global competition for the very best science. And, most importantly, our greatest strength is our membership, staff, and volunteers, representing all sectors of the chemical enterprise, which is foundational to our future.

Indeed, there is a bright future for ACS, but we must continue to be strategic in ensuring that the society remains strong and relevant for current and future chemical scientists. I offer my leadership, strategic planning experience, as well as my determination to further advance the effectiveness and impact of ACS on the local, national, and international fronts. Together, we will strive to “improve people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” Thank you for your consideration. For more information, please visit my website at:

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