Rio Grande Valley Section.University of Texas, El Paso, El Paso, Texas.
Academic record:University of Puerto Rico, B.S., 1971, and Ph.D., 1974; University of Wisconsin, Madison, postdoctorate, 1975.
Honors: ACS Fellow, 2011; Herty Medal, ACS Georgia Section, 2007; ACS Award for Recognizing Underrepresented Minorities in Chemistry for Excellence in Research & Development, 2011; Florida Award, ACS Florida Section, 1996; IUPAC Fellow, 2009; Alumni Research Award, Clemson University, 2007; College of Engineering & Science Award for Faculty Achievement in the Sciences, Clemson University, 2004; American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2003; Fogarty Senior International Fellow, 1990 and 1997; University of Miami Provost’s Scholarly Activity Award, 1997; Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award, 1968.
Professional positions (for past 10 years):University of Texas, El Paso, Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry, 2010–; Clemson University, professor, 2002–10, chair, 2002–06; National Science Foundation, director, Chemistry Division, 2006–10.
Service in ACS national offices:Committee on Science, 2005–08, committee associate, 2003–05; ACS national award selection committee, 2014–17.
Service in ACS offices: Chicago Section: Gibbs Medal Jury, 2008–12.
Member: Member of ACS since 1973; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Electrochemical Society.
Related activities: U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry, member, 2015–18; Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry, editor in chief, 2011–; Union Carbide, chemist I, 1975–77; University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, associate professor, 1980–83; assistant professor, 1977–80; University of Miami, professor, 1983–2002; National Science Foundation (NSF), Chemistry Division, program officer, 1982–83; NSF, Advisory Committee for Chemistry Division, member, 1986–89; Louis Pasteur University, sabbatical with professor Jean-Marie Lehn (as Fogarty Senior International Fellow), 1990; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, sabbatical with professor François Diederich (as Fogarty Senior International Fellow), 1997–98; NSF, Mathematical & Physical Sciences Advisory Committee, member, 2003–06; NSF, Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science & Engineering, member, 2003–06; Journal of the Mexican Chemical Society, editorial board, 2005–; Fullerenes, Nanotubes & Carbon Nanostructures, editorial board, 2006–; Gordon Research Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry, vice chair, 2009, chair, 2011; Instituto Madrileño de Educación Avanzada (IMDEA) Nanociencia, Board of Trustees, member, 2008–; Governing Board of the Council for Chemical Research, member, 2008–; Physical Chemistry of Solid Surfaces Institute, International Advisory Board, member, 2009–; Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Distinguished Guest Professor, 2009–; published 409 journal articles and 47 book chapters; 451 invited lectures.
Chemists almost unanimously agree about the centrality of their discipline among the sciences and its crucial role in providing the solutions to the grand-challenge problems, which include sustainability, health, and security. However, the biggest challenge that we face is to convince other scientists, government, and the public of this centrality and importance. If we want to be effective in convincing others about the importance of chemistry, we need specific and realistic plans to effect change. Although change is the only element of life which is constant, effecting change is difficult and requires strong leadership based on conviction and experience. Eric Hoffer, author of “The Ordeal of Change,” wrote, “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” I strongly believe that change is essential for advancement.
As president of ACS, I would do the following:
Promote inter- and multidisciplinary education and research. Educating the future generations to succeed in an increasingly diverse, complex, and multidisciplinary world necessitates creative approaches in the classroom and in the laboratories. Although we promote inter- and multidisciplinary education, curricular changes have been incremental at best, partly because of structural constraints and inertia. Through the Committee on Professional Training, I would evaluate curricular alternatives that best exploit our rich diversity and reflect the ways in which chemical research is conducted in industrial and academic institutions. Real changes are needed to continue to thrive intellectually if our discipline is to remain vibrant.
Advocate strongly for increases in research funding. Using my academic and industrial experience, scientific expertise, and the knowledge acquired during my years at the National Science Foundation, my top priority would be to work closely with the ACS Office of Public Affairs and Congressional Chemistry Caucus to educate and convince Congress that investing in basic chemical research is essential for the health of the U.S. innovation engine and the long-range competitiveness and prosperity of the country. Funding chemical research is not an expense, it is an investment for the country. Investments in our field have been shown to yield substantial returns, both intellectual as well as economic. My years in Washington, D.C., gave me a very broad and somewhat unique perspective that will be crucial to articulate a powerful and convincing case on behalf of our community.
Establish closer ties between industry and academic institutions. Our discipline is the only science with an associated industry that bears the same name. In order for the U.S. to retain a privileged position in worldwide science and innovation, the research and development enterprise in chemistry demands closer ties between industrial and academic sectors and requires a delicate balance between public and private funds. Industry can no longer expect that all the basic research and education of future generations be exclusively supported with public funds, nor can academic institutions plan to function as industrial centers. ACS has a key role to play in bringing these sectors closer together and helping catalyze a positive and synergistic interaction for the collective good. Intellectual property issues have to be addressed and resolved, and as president, I would make this one of my top priorities.
Increase international partnerships and collaborations. Defining the fine dynamic balance between collaboration and competition at the international level is important to set the right path for the success of the U.S. International partnerships need to start at the very early educational stages via student exchanges at all levels and extend into cooperation in fundamental and applied research addressing grand-challenge issues. ACS should encourage these interactions through the expansion of some of its existing programs in the Education Division, the Office of International Activities, and the Green Chemistry Institute and create new programs and cooperative funding mechanisms. To this end, I would strengthen and establish new partnerships with other professional societies in the U.S. and around the world.
In summary, if elected president of ACS, I would concentrate my efforts in catalyzing change at many levels, in multidisciplinary education, advocating on behalf of the profession, promoting closer university-industry ties, and enhancing international partnerships. I look forward to taking on these challenges for the benefit of our community and to convince others of the centrality and importance of our discipline. For more information, visit my website at utep.edu/science/echegoyen.