Issue Date: September 1, 2008
ACS Visits China Again
AS IS COMMON at American Chemical Society national meetings, many things happened at the same time when the Chinese Chemical Society (CCS) held its national meeting at Nankai University in the northeast city of Tianjin in the middle of July. The event featured many firsts, particularly for the U.S. delegation.
It was the first time that an ACS president participated in a CCS national meeting, and for ACS President Bruce E. Bursten, it was a first visit to China. During his one-hour meeting with CCS President Chunli Bai, Bursten noted that more and more Chinese scientists publish in ACS publications. He also said the society has to adjust to the increasingly large number of ACS members of Chinese origin who are deciding to return to China.
A large delegation of ACS journal editors and editorial board members also traveled to Tianjin. Most of them were associated with Accounts of Chemical Research, a journal that was for the first time holding its editorial board meeting in China. This is also a first for any ACS journal.
ACR Editor-in-Chief Joan S. Valentine says she was overjoyed that 20 ACR editorial board members and editors made it to Tianjin. Editors from other publications included Peter J. Stang, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Cynthia J. Burrows, senior editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry. Valentine adds that the Tianjin meeting was ACR's second editorial board meeting outside the U.S. The first took place in Budapest, Hungary, in 2006 during the first European Chemistry Congress. Holding meetings abroad, she says, reflects the diverse geographic origin of her board members and editors.
ACR is unlike other journals that accept submissions. Authors publishing in ACR do so after being invited by the publication. Valentine believes that ACR still does not publish enough Chinese authors, something that is "the journal's fault." But she hopes to correct this flaw. "Many Chinese scientists are now coming into their own," she tells C&EN. "Now is the time to look for new authors in China."
As part of the CCS meeting, the Chemistry Graduate Program held a symposium for its 30th anniversary. The event was attended by the program's founder, Harvard University professor William von Eggers Doering. CGP is a program that has been selecting promising chemistry students in China and sending them to top universities in the U.S.
AS FAR AS ACS is concerned, a highlight of the Tianjin meeting was the official launch of the Chinese version of "Chemistry in Context," a popular chemistry textbook designed to draw the interest of nonscience majors. "I love this book," Bai told Bursten at the meeting. Translating the book into Chinese, an idea that was first discussed two years ago when ACS and CCS officials met in Atlantic City, N.J., was a major undertaking. It involved ACS, CCS, Peking University, which actually translated the book, the publishing firm McGraw-Hill, and China's Chemical Industry Press.
Cathy Middlecamp, the editor-in-chief of the 7th edition of "Chemistry in Context," was in Tianjin for the launch. "I think I can speak for the past editors and say that we all welcome the chance to learn from our colleagues in China how we might improve the book and make it truly about chemistry in a global context," she says. "We are very excited."
Victor Lu, manager of higher education at McGraw-Hill in Beijing, tells C&EN that the Chinese version of the book is "about 95% the same" as the U.S. one. The book is illustrated with many examples of chemistry in real life. In cases when these real-life examples were U.S.-inspired, he says, the Peking University translators attempted to change them, after consulting with U.S. editors, to make them less exotic to a Chinese audience.
Bursten took advantage of his meeting with Bai to unveil two new initiatives that he hopes will help strengthen scientific exchanges between China and the U.S. He first urged Bai to encourage CCS members to participate in the ACS Member Network. The network, officially launched last month (C&EN, Aug. 18, page 12), is a tool that allows chemists to describe their work and interests to other members of the network.
Bursten followed this by inviting CCS to send a delegation to Washington, D.C., to be part of the planning of an international meeting on the globalization of chemistry that will take place in August 2009. Bai said that he could not immediately respond to the invitation but that Zhigang Shuai, a professor at the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is also the CCS coordinator for international affairs, would look into the matter.
Since 2005,when it sent a high-level delegation to China (C&EN, May 16, 2005, page 47), ACS has actively sought to further its exchanges with the country's scientists. ACS journals have been increasing the number of Chinese editors on their boards (C&EN, Sept. 18, 2006, page 35). With the help of ACS, Chinese deans visited U.S. universities earlier this year to exchange ideas on how to best organize chemistry departments (C&EN, March 10, page 76). And the two societies are planning to hold a joint energy symposium in the northeast city of Dalian in the first week of November this year.
The planning of the Dalian symposium has not gone smoothly. The Chinese side originally believed that it had agreed with ACS that the event would be large and feature famous scientists of international caliber. But on the ACS side, the Dalian symposium is perceived as a smaller pilot-type project, according to Bradley D. Miller, director of the ACS office of international activities, who was at the meeting between Bursten and Bai. Shuai and Miller have since agreed that the symposium will focus on areas including fuel cells, biomass conversion, and photocatalysis and photovoltaics.
JACS's Stang says that overall, relations between ACS and CCS are on the right track. "ACS is moving deliberately and thoughtfully," he tells C&EN. ACS has been paying special attention to promoting programs that are of interest to younger Chinese chemists, he says. For example, ACS is working with the National Natural Science Foundation of China on early-career workshops taking place in the U.S. and China.
ACS President Bursten told Bai that it's critical for ACS to increase its presence in China. "Chemistry has moved beyond the U.S. borders," he said. "We want to reach out."
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