For District I Director: Thomas R. Gilbert | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 37 | pp. 36-37
Issue Date: September 10, 2012

For District I Director: Thomas R. Gilbert

Department: ACS News
Credit: Courtesy of Thomas Gilbert
Photo of Thomas Gilbert.
Credit: Courtesy of Thomas Gilbert

Northeastern Section. Northeastern University, Boston

Academic record: Clarkson College of Technology, B.S., 1968; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1971

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2011; Henry A. Hill Memorial Award, 2010; Outstanding Teacher of First-Year Students Award, College of Engineering, Northeastern University, 2010; Excellence in Teaching Award, Northeastern University, 1999; Sigma Xi; Gamma Sigma Epsilon

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Northeastern University: associate professor, 1985– ; School of Education, associate director for academic affairs, 1999–2004, interim dean, 2004–07; Biotechnology Programs, academic director, 2009–11

Service in ACS national offices: Council Policy Committee, (voting), 2007–12, vice chair, 2008–10; Long-Range Planning Subcommittee, chair, 2008–12, (nonvoting), 2000; Committee on Nominations & Elections, 2001–06, vice chair, 2004–06; Committee on Meetings & Expositions, 1995–2000, chair, 2000; Board of Directors Planning Committee, 2008–10; Board of Directors International Strategy Implementation Task Force, 2008; Task Force on Election Procedures, chair, 2003–05

Service in ACS offices:Northeastern Section: councilor, 1990–2013; alternate councilor, 1987–89; chair, 1988; chair-elect, 1987; Nominations Committee, chair, 1989; Long-Range Planning Committee, 1989; analytical group chair, 1983–86; Centennial Celebration Program, chair, 1998. Northeast Regional Meeting: general chair, 1993. Division of Analytical Chemistry: 46th Annual Summer Symposium on Analytical Chemistry, Organizing Committee, cochair, 1993

Member: Member of ACS since 1968. ACS Divisions: Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Education

Related activities: ACS Division of Chemical Education, Examinations Institute, 2000; Analytical Chemistry Examination Committee, 1998–2000; New England Aquarium, research associate director, 1977–81; International Symposium on High-Performance Capillary Electrophoresis, Organizing Committee, vice chair, 1998–99, 1993–96; published 45 journal articles and one general chemistry textbook (now in 3rd edition); holds three patents


I welcome this opportunity to present my administrative credentials and to describe what I would try to accomplish if elected to the board of directors from District I.

Past service. My biographical sketch lists the ACS offices I have held. My accomplishments in those offices include the following: (1) As chair of the ACS Council Committee on Meetings & Expositions, I led the effort to eliminate the chronic operating deficits of national meetings. Through cost controls and revenue-generating measures, the finances of national meetings and expositions are now on an even keel. (2) During my time on the Committee on Nominations & Elections, I chaired the Task Force on Election Procedures and presented to council constitution and bylaw changes that now give ACS members the option of casting their ballots electronically in national, divisional, and local section elections. Most of the votes in the last national election were cast electronically. (3) As vice chair of the Council Policy Committee and as founding chair of its Long-Range Planning Subcommittee, I led the effort to expand and enhance the orientation program for new councilors and to engage all ACS members in helping implement the ACS strategic plan.

Membership services. Members of ACS Council know about the spectrum of services available to all ACS members. Most members do not. If elected, I would work to expand membership awareness of ACS services and increase the frequency with which members connect to the society. Both goals could be achieved through an enhanced ACS Network that uses members’ professional profiles to, for example, update them on recent papers in ACS journals, notify them of presentations of interest at upcoming ACS meetings, and remind them of pending abstract submission deadlines for their divisions.

Promoting the chemical enterprise. ACS should continue to advocate for more corporate and public funding of basic research and, through its Entrepreneurial Initiative (EI), help members turn their ideas for innovative products and processes into new businesses. To make EI more effective, ACS needs to do a better job of coordinating national programs, including the Entreprenurial Resources Center, with grassroots efforts by local sections to enhance entrepreneurship and to support the launch of small chemical businesses and to help sustain them.

Education and workforce development. Helping members find jobs is a critical role for ACS, but so, too, is developing a workforce that can fill those jobs. The boundaries that once separated chemistry from biology, physics, and materials science have largely disappeared. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of many jobs in today’s chemical enterprise needs to be reflected in how chemical professionals are trained.

This is especially true at the graduate level where the traditional preparation of Ph.D.s needs to be enhanced through industrial internships and other collaborations that help doctoral candidates build critical process skills, including interdisciplinary teamwork, that are key to their future success in rapidly evolving careers in the molecular sciences.

ACS should also encourage the development of professional science master’s (PSM) degrees: interdisciplinary graduate degrees that prepare students for careers in targeted industries. Recently I served as the academic director of three PSM programs in biotechnology with tracks in pharmaceutical science, analytical biotechnology, and process development, and I was involved in the design and launch of a fourth program in biopharmaceutical regulatory science. All of these programs include industrial internships and address critical workforce needs in a manufacturing sector that is expanding at a time when others are reducing the number of chemical professionals they employ.

Public outreach. As the world’s largest professional scientific society, ACS is well positioned to reach out to the American public about the importance of chemistry in their lives. Indeed, ACS already has many successful outreach programs, including National Chemistry Week. Still, these efforts will have only limited impact as long as a majority of the American public knows so little about science that they, for example, cannot distinguish between astronomy and astrology. ACS should join with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and sister scientific societies in a vigorous frontal assault on science illiteracy in America. Only when the general public understands the process of science and appreciates its transformational power can they understand the many ways that advances in chemistry positively impact their lives. For more information about my candidacy, please go to

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