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A New Opportunity For Graduate Students

by E. Ann Nalley, ACS President
March 27, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 13

Credit: Photo by Peter Cutts
Credit: Photo by Peter Cutts

In 2004, ACS President Chuck Casey introduced a new program, the Academic Employment Initiative. AEI is aimed at broadening the process by which colleges and universities recruit faculty into the chemical sciences. The intent is to give colleges and universities exposure to a larger pool of candidates for faculty positions than is possible through current recruitment practices and to give candidates the opportunity to convey their teaching and research goals to a wider audience.

This program was designed to provide personal contact at ACS national meetings between postdocs who are seeking employment in academic positions and academic recruiters. The jury is still out on its value, but the follow-up reports we have received indicate that the program is working. I personally believe that the program has value and have chosen to continue this program as one of my presidential initiatives in 2006.

At the spring ACS national meeting in Atlanta, AEI will offer a candid look at faculty recruitment through a panel session called "Academic Hiring: How To Get the Job." Panelists include both senior and junior faculty who will address concerns and questions raised by academic job seekers. Graduate students and postdocs who are interested in faculty careers should plan to attend this session if possible. The session will also provide a valuable opportunity for faculty to exchange views on their priorities in recruiting new faculty.

At the fall ACS national meeting in San Francisco, AEI will be part of the popular Sci-Mix poster session. Those seeking faculty positions will present research posters or posters expanding on their research interests, teaching philosophies, and experiences. The objectives are to give faculty recruiters the opportunity to meet as many candidates as possible and to give candidates the opportunity to network among themselves and meet faculty from many institutions.

At a recent meeting on gender equity that I attended, the suggestion was made that ACS should create a program similar to AEI for graduate students who are seeking postdoctoral positions. I asked staff to work with me to design a symbol that could be used by graduate students to announce their interest in being considered for postdoctoral positions.

The Seeking Postdoc symbol, which is shown below, will be made available to graduate students as a sticker. The stickers will be available in two sizes, small ones that can be placed on students' registration badges and larger ones that can be attached to posters in the upper right-hand corner. Students can pick up their stickers in the registration area or in the area where their posters are to be displayed. The symbol will also be made available on the ACS website at in a form that students will be able to download and insert directly onto their posters or PowerPoint presentations as they prepare for future meetings.

We anticipate that graduate students who wish to indicate their interest in postdoctoral positions will use this symbol not only at national meetings but at regional meetings as well. This will provide graduate students with the opportunity to announce their interest in postdoctoral positions and will also provide a chance for faculty who have postdoctoral positions available to conduct on-site discussions and interviews with potential candidates.

This new initiative, designed to assist graduate students in finding postdoctoral positions and faculty in making the connection with those graduate students, is being announced at the Atlanta meeting, and it will take some time to make the program well-known to faculty and students.

Watch for posters and flyers at the Atlanta meeting that will give more details about the new initiative. Both the AEI program and the postdoctoral symbol represent value added for our members. We need your help in spreading the word about the objectives of both AEI and the postdoctoral symbol initiative. I welcome your suggestions and comments about other ways that we can provide value-added programs for our members (send e-mail to

ACS can play a role in the challenge of change and the need to ensure a broad swath of talent in our future chemistry faculty—not through intervention, but assistance—beginning with AEI and by assisting our graduate students in finding the right postdoctoral positions for them. Our national meetings offer ideal forums for job candidates and recruiters to connect and explore mutual opportunities. I am pleased to have the opportunity to support these programs that add value for ACS members and enhance their participation in national meetings. Both of these programs will assist my efforts in ensuring the future of chemistry.

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



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