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Chemists Convene In Denver

by Sophie L. Rovner
September 8, 2011

ACS's mascot at the Colorado Convention Center.
ACS's mascot at the Colorado Convention Center.

Hurricane Irene on the nation’s East Coast hindered travel to Denver earlier this week, but once attendees arrived for the 242nd American Chemical Society national meeting, the city offered a gloriously sunny welcome.

More than 10,000 chemists and other visitors attended the meeting, including approximately 2,400 students and 1,000 exposition exhibitors. The on-site ACS Career Fair hosted more than 50 employers and 760 job seekers, who had access to more than 260 available positions. The online Virtual Career Fair attracted nearly 4,000 job seekers, more than a dozen employers, and more than 360 jobs. The career fairs featured numerous career and professional development workshops.

Chemists presented almost 7,300 papers—including some delivered via Skype as a result of the hurricane. Several presentations centered on the meeting theme of “The Chemistry of Air, Space, and Water.” Others covered topics as diverse as single cell analysis, patent rights, and how to get a first job in industry.

Climate scientist Susan Solomon of the University of Colorado, Boulder, presented the Kavli Foundation Innovations in Chemistry Lecture on ozone depletion and climate change. Other events at the meeting included symposia celebrating the centennial of the Gibbs Medal and of Marie Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and a session on communicating chemistry to the public

The Committee on Budget & Finance met in Denver to review the society’s 2011 financial performance. Revenues are expected to reach $468.5 million by year-end, while net contribution from operations is projected to total $18.3 million, or $5.0 million more than had been budgeted.

Also during the meeting, ACS released a report on “Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs”. The Board of Directors voted to include funding in the 2012 proposed budget for a new program related to the report’s recommendations: the ACS Entrepreneurship Initiative, which will provide training and resources to ACS members pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. At its open meeting, the board hosted a discussion about ACS programs for members facing employment challenges.

The ACS Council took up some other meaty issues in Denver. ACS President Nancy B. Jackson discussed the formation of a Presidential Roundtable on Sustainable Manufacturing. She also hosted a lively open-mic session in which councilors exchanged suggestions for improving laboratory safety in academia. Ideas included linking pay raises, research funding, and tenure to faculty safety records; creating a student chapter award for lab-safety-related activities; and encouraging people in the entertainment industry to outfit actors who portray chemists with appropriate safety gear.

A more divisive matter involved the Committee on Divisional Activities’ recommendation that the Division of Petroleum Chemistry be dissolved and that its assets and members be combined with those of the Division of Fuel Chemistry, under the new name of the Division of Energy & Fuels, effective Dec. 31.

Councilors who spoke at the meeting supported the combination of the two existing divisions. However, some councilors strenuously objected to the name proposed for the new division. They felt it was too broad and would encroach on the domain of other divisions, thereby weakening those divisions. Nevertheless, the motion was passed with a 53% “yes” vote.

In other business, the council approved the probationary Division of Catalysis Science & Technology for full division status and approved its proposed bylaws. And the council approved the “Petition on Position Statements,” which amends the society’s bylaws to allow for a clear development process when the society crafts statements on specific issues that touch on chemistry.


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