In Pursuit Of Global Solutions | March 31, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 13 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 13 | p. 45 | ACS Comments
Issue Date: March 31, 2008

In Pursuit Of Global Solutions

By Judith L. Benham, Chair, Board of Directors
Department: ACS News | Collection: Sustainability
ACS has a long history of encouraging excellence of science education.
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
ACS has a long history of encouraging excellence of science education.
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

"Everybody has problems, but chemists have solutions." This old bumper-sticker line represents our belief that chemistry can and should be part of the solutions to societal problems. In a world where headlines daily proclaim the global challenges in providing sustainable food and energy, protecting the environment, improving health care, and providing education for future generations, we are called as chemists and chemical engineers to contribute to solutions.

As a part of its new ACS Strategic Plan 2008 and Beyond (, ACS has identified a key strategic goal that will encourage scientific professionals around the world to enlist in this effort:

"ACS will be a global leader in enlisting the world's scientific professionals in collaboration to address, through chemistry, the challenges facing our world."

Chemists are at the forefront of finding the solutions to many major challenges that current and future generations face. ACS is dedicated to harnessing the knowledge of the global scientific community and convening scientists from around the world to discuss, identify, and engage in research to pursue solutions to the major challenges facing our world.

ACS has already made strides in the advancement of this goal. Among many initiatives under way, here are some examples:

The environment: Since 1973, the ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry has been a dynamic, interactive, and integrating community for those applying chemistry to understanding and solving environmental and sustainability issues.

Green chemistry: The ACS Green Chemistry Institute engages domestic and international communities to assist the chemical enterprise in becoming more sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially.

Biofuels: In May, ACS and collaborators in Brazil convened a Presidential Symposium titled "Biomass Conversion to Biofuels, Biomaterials, and Chemicals." This project will continue on a regional basis in 2008, bringing together Latin American chemists on the topic of the environmental impacts of biofuel production.

ACS Petroleum Research Fund: There is a renewed focus on support for petroleum-related research and research into alternatives to petroleum at the ACS Petroleum Research Fund, a research foundation operated by the society that distributes $25 million per year in grants. While maintaining an emphasis on fundamental science and support for the career development of new investigators, the fund is increasing its focus on research that will have a significant impact on the global challenges related to energy.

Health: In October 2007, medicinal chemists throughout the U.S. and Europe came together at the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry/European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry conference in Siena, Italy, to discuss the topic of the medicinal chemistry of cancer and the diseases of the central nervous system.

Safe water: In 2001, the ACS Committee on International Activities and Office of International Activities organized and directed the workshop "Exploring Collaborative Opportunity across Research, Applications & Education in Water Quality" in Dakar, Senegal. It focused specifically on advances in the chemical sciences that applied to problems of water quality in Africa. This workshop included analytical chemists from Africa and their U.S. counterparts.

Peace: The Frontiers of Chemistry: Research & Education in the Middle East conferences advance the cause of peaceful collaboration by bringing together researchers from Arab countries and Israel to discuss the science they share. These so-called Malta conferences began in 2003 as a partnership among ACS and the German Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry.

Education: ACS has a long history of encouraging excellence of science education and has sponsored the Biennial Conferences on Chemical Education, which attract an international audience, since 1970. ACS also participates in the biennial International Conference on Chemical Education, which is held in global locations. The International Research Experiences for Undergraduates is a new initiative that fosters an exchange of undergraduate students between the U.S. and England, France, Germany, and Italy for summer research.

At the upcoming ACS national meeting in New Orleans, a major theme will be "Energy and the Environment." It will encompass 155 technical sessions—including 59 cosponsored between ACS and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)—organized by 16 technical divisions, and featuring the ACS/AIChE Joint Presidential Keynote Symposium, "Energy Research: Future Challenges & Opportunities."

On Sunday, April 6, there will be a town hall meeting on global water issues at 2 PM in the Riverbend Ballroom of the Marriott Convention Center. It is sponsored by Global Innovation Imperatives, a collaboration between the ACS Committee on Corporation Associates and the Society of Chemical Industry. At the fall national meeting in Philadelphia, the theme will be "Chemistry for Health: Catalyzing Translational Research."

The ACS Strategic Plan creates a blueprint to advance our vision: "Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry." A focus on addressing global challenges represents this commitment to use our science to make a difference.

Please tell us how you think ACS can make a difference in this area. The ACS Board of Directors and its Planning Committee are looking for creative ideas to bring to bear all of the society's resources including, most importantly, the combined efforts of our more than 160,000 members. You can e-mail us at Together we can be instrumental in solving some of the world's biggest problems.


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

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