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Attila E. Pavlath wins Parsons Award

ACS past president is honored for his work in promoting the public image of chemistry

by Linda Wang
June 21, 2018

Attila Pavlath.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
Attila Pavlath

ACS past-president Attila E. Pavlath is the winner of the 2018 Charles Lathrop Parsons Award by the ACS Board of Directors. The award recognizes outstanding public service by a member of the society and is named after the executive secretary who helped create today’s ACS.

Pavlath is being honored for his outstanding service to the ACS locally, regionally, and nationally to advance the impact of chemistry on society. Pavlath is well regarded for his more than five decades of contributions to promoting the public image of chemistry. Prior to being elected ACS president in 2001, Pavlath served in numerous ACS local sections and divisions, as well as on the ACS Council.

“Attila Pavlath truly has a zeal for all things, but especially ACS, chemistry, and its impact on society,” says Frank Blum, who served on the ACS Council with Pavlath. “This zeal manifests itself in his record of public service. In his over 50 years of activity, of which I have known him for about half, I have been highly impressed with his commitment to others. Attila has always seemed to speak for the chemists. He is clearly the champion of populist causes. In this role, he has often spoken for and utilized the skills and enthusiasm of our members, a real plus in our membership-oriented society.”

During his presidency, Pavlath created a “Technology Milestones in Chemistry” exhibit for ACS’s 125th anniversary celebration. This exhibit showed in layman language the contributions of chemistry in transportation, energy, communications, medicine, agriculture, and food.

He later worked with the ACS international chapter in Hungary and the Hungarian Chemical Society and other sister societies to create a poster of the exhibit and had it translated into 32 languages to coincide with the International Year of Chemistry in 2011. He also launched a website,, that highlights the exhibit and poster translations.

“Attila Pavlath was among the first ones to recognize that urgent, efficient actions were needed to stop the erosion of the public image of chemistry and start improving it,” says Keith Vitense, who has served on the ACS Council with Pavlath. “Most recently, on the request of the Korean Chemical Society, he developed a book in layman language on the contribution of chemistry to everyday life: ‘Chemistry: Our Past, Present, and Future.’ Attila has devoted his life to the improvement of the chemical profession and the life of its practitioners and to public service.”

Pavlath says he hopes his legacy will be that he has made the world a better place for others because of his activities on behalf of all chemists. “If I feel that I did something for others, that is worth more than anything,” he says.


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