The American Chemical Society has a new Astrochemistry Subdivision under the Division of Physical Chemistry. PHYS established the subdivision during the fall 2012 ACS national meeting in Philadelphia.
Astrochemistry is the study of the abundance, formation, and chemical reactions of atoms, molecules, and ions and how they interact with radiation in both the gas and condensed phases in solar systems and in the interstellar medium.
The new subdivision provides an interdisciplinary home for chemists interested in this growing research area, and it aims to promote new research collaborations, says Ralf I. Kaiser, chair of the subdivision and a chemistry professor at the University of Hawaii. Also, the subdivision will give students interested in astrochemistry an opportunity to connect with investigators active in the field.
“Astrochemistry traditionally has been done by astronomers and astrophysicists interested primarily in identifying molecules they have found in space,” says Reggie Hudson, a subdivision member and associate chief of the Astrochemistry Laboratory at the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center. For a long time, there’s been a need for chemists to get involved in the field, he adds. That’s because “the emphasis has shifted to understanding the reactions responsible and to using this understanding to learn more about cosmic evolution from the scale of planetary atmospheres to the formation of stars to the appearance of life on Earth and elsewhere.”
Arthur G. Suits, chair-elect of the subdivision and a chemistry professor at Wayne State University, says he hopes the subdivision will increase the visibility of astrochemistry research. “Maybe some universities will establish programs in this area,” he says. “In fact, chemistry departments have begun hiring young faculty in this field in recent years, so I think such growth is inevitable.”
An inaugural symposium will be held at the fall 2013 ACS national meeting. ACS members, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdocs, are invited to join the subdivision. For more information, visit www.chem.hawaii.edu/Bil301/ACSAstrochemistry.html.
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