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2011: A Good Year For Chemistry

by Madeleine Jacobs
March 5, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 10

Madeleine Jacobs, ACS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer

The American Chemical Society has completed another highly successful year. I invite you to read my report, “2011 Highlights of ACS Achievements,” now available on (click on “About Us”). In that report, I have captured a sampling of accomplishments in 2011, among them:

◾ For the eighth consecutive year, ACS had a positive net contribution from operations. Preliminary unaudited results show that the society generated a net of $20.9 million, which is $7.7 million more than the budget that had been approved for 2011.

◾ The International Year of Chemistry (IYC) 2011 provided ACS local sections, technical divisions, committees, individual members, and staff with new and fruitful opportunities to increase the public understanding and appreciation of chemistry. The capstone for ACS was a $1 million award from the National Science Foundation to the ACS Education Division to prepare and distribute 8,000 kits for middle school teachers and to attend four science and engineering festivals in 2011–12.

◾ The Office of Public Affairs successfully achieved extensive media coverage during IYC; produced “Spellbound,” an eight-part IYC-themed video series featuring a diverse group of notable chemists; and raised the profile of ACS in federal agencies.

◾ Dow Chemical provided a $2.5 million grant to be the sole sponsor of the 2012 International Chemistry Olympiad, which will be held in July at the University of Maryland, with ACS serving as the host. This is the first time since 1992 that IChO has been held in the U.S.

◾ The ACS Development Office raised more than $5 million to support vital programs such as Project SEED, the ACS Scholars Program, and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.

◾ ACS ended the year with 164,215 members, the highest number in the society’s history. The successful recruiting and retention are testimonials from our continuing and new members that ACS provides value and is their professional home for life.

◾ Chemical Abstracts Service indexed publications at an all-time record high; reactions were collected at an all-time record level; reaction procedures in SciFinder grew to more than 3 million; and new registrations in the CAS Registry grew by more than 9.3 million. At the end of the year, the CAS Registry contained nearly 65 million small molecules. CAS doubled its search capacity, enabling academic “unlimited use” agreements for SciFinder, the gold standard for chemical research around the world.

◾ ACS Publications launched two new journals, ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters and ACS Catalysis. Other accomplishments include a new C&EN Online website and a C&EN mobile app. In 2011, ACS editors-in-chief handled nearly 100,000 manuscript submissions through the editorial peer review process, and ACS Publications published more than 36,000 articles. ACS publications saw some 77 million downloads.

◾ The ACS Board of Directors, members, and staff collaborated on a new ACS Strategic Plan for 2012 & Beyond. The plan has four highly focused priority goals for the society. ACS Board Chair William F. Carroll Jr. will provide more information about the plan in a forthcoming ACS Comment. Please visit

◾ The Office of Research Grants awarded 184 Petroleum Research Fund grants for a total of $16.4 million, up from 131 grants and $11.4 million in 2010.

With this list of accomplishments as a backdrop, ACS staff is energized about the challenges and opportunities that await us in 2012. On the challenges side of the ledger, ACS members are facing the most difficult employment situation since the society began keeping statistics about four decades ago. It is clear that, despite some promising signs in hiring, the world is still recovering from the Great Recession.

In addition, there are troubling macro trends. A new study from the Census Bureau’s Population Reference Bureau reported that the share of American workers in science and engineering professions fell slightly in the past decade, ending a steady upward trend in the proportion of workers in fields associated with technological innovation and economic growth. Technological and scientific innovation is one of the U.S.’s core strengths, providing the nation with a competitive edge. We cannot allow this core strength to decline.

On the opportunities side: ACS members are talented, and they are resilient. They are ready to tackle the global challenges facing the nation and the world—ensuring adequate supplies of energy, protecting the environment, providing sufficient clean water and food for a growing world population, tackling intractable diseases, and protecting national security.

ACS is doing everything in its power to help its members thrive in the global workforce, whether they are students or seasoned career professionals. In 2012, ACS is offering a new publications benefit for all members and upgraded career offerings through a new comprehensive, modular, and interactive series of “Career Pathways” workshops to guide members at all stages of their careers and transitions. We are also launching a training program for budding chemical entrepreneurs on the basics of creating or growing a start-up as well as a resource center to support entrepreneurs by providing access to information, expertise, and services.

Please visit the ACS website to learn how ACS can help you advance your career. And while you are there, please read more about 2011 accomplishments and the ACS Strategic Plan for 2012 & Beyond. Thank you for being an ACS member. You are truly part of an enterprise aimed at “Improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.”



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