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C&EN’s Futures Festival

by Bibiana Campos-Seijo
July 27, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 29


The C&EN team was disappointed when news came earlier this year that the ACS Spring 2020 National Meeting in Philadelphia had been canceled due to the pandemic. ACS’s two annual meetings are highlights of the year for our reporters, and we all look forward to a few days of great science, excellent networking opportunities, and the chance to reconnect with old friends. At the time, it was difficult to imagine that we would also be deprived of an in-person ACS national meeting in the fall.

Unfortunately, that’s where we are; we are living in unprecedented times. The ACS Fall 2020 National Meeting will not happen in the traditional way. Instead, we will have a virtual meeting and exhibition Aug. 17–20.

C&EN is also adapting. We have been increasing the number of events that we offer at ACS national meetings over the past few years, and we finally decided to put all these activities under one umbrella: C&EN’s Futures Festival. Starting Aug. 25–26, we’ll host a 2-day virtual event featuring the people, ideas, and discoveries that will shape the future of science. C&EN’s Futures Festival is designed to be a futuristic, multidisciplinary, and global forum that will uncover and inspire the leaders and innovations of tomorrow.

The free event includes celebrated programs such as C&EN’s Talented 12, now on its sixth edition and going strong. We will honor a dozen rising stars in the chemical sciences from around the globe who are committed to solving some of the problems that the world faces. The Talented 12 will delight the audience with TED-style talks covering their lives and areas of research. Harvard’s Stuart Schreiber will get things started with straight-talk advice for the Talented 12 and others starting their careers.

The Festival will also include C&EN’s Trailblazers, a program that celebrates the diversity that drives chemistry forward. Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, guest editor of the special Trailblazers issue we published on March 9 to commemorate International Women’s Day, will kick off this session. She’ll be followed by a selection of the women entrepreneurs featured in the issue. Each is charting a course to solving our biggest challenges with chemistry.

Exciting new sessions include a Power Hour, hosted in partnership with the Gordon Research Conferences. The Power Hour is a forum for small-group discussion of barriers to inclusivity in the sciences and will include a fireside chat with Pfizer’s Charlotte Allerton and Vanderbilt University’s (and Talented 12 alumna from 2016) Renã Robinson.

For the inaugural Festival, we’ve partnered with CAS, a division of ACS, on a session to showcase the vision of the participants in the CAS Future Leaders program. We are also collaborating with ACS Publications to celebrate the first recipient of the ACS Central Science Disruptors & Innovators Prize, an award that recognizes work that is transforming the central science of chemistry. Carolyn Bertozzi, the journal’s editor in chief, will introduce this year’s winner, Zhenan Bao of Stanford University, who will reflect on the future of polymers, medical devices, and more.

We’ll close with a Q&A session in which C&EN’s Lisa Jarvis will be joined by Bertozzi, former Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellman, and Moderna chief medical officer Tal Zaks to talk about the future of science.

You can register for C&EN’s Futures Festival at The final program will be available at the beginning of August. I’d like to thank our sponsors—Thermo Fisher Scientific, Pfizer, and MilliporeSigma—for their support, and I look forward to seeing you during C&EN’s inaugural Futures Festival.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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