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For Director-At-Large: Susan B. Butts

September 16, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 37

Credit: Courtesy of Susan B. Butts
Courtesy of Susan B. Butts.
Credit: Courtesy of Susan B. Butts

Midland Section. Susan B. Butts Consulting, Midland, Mich.

Academic record: University of Michigan, B.S in Chemistry, with high distinction and highest honors in chemistry, 1975; Northwestern University, M.S., 1977, Ph.D., 1980

Honors: American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2011; Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, National Academies, appointment to the council, 2009; Alumni Merit Award, Northwestern University, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, 2008; Sigma Xi, 1980; Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board, Phi Lambda Upsilon, 1975

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Independent consultant, 2010– ; Council for Chemical Research, president, 2010; Dow Chemical Co., External Science & Technology Programs, senior R&D director, 2006–10; External Technology, R&D director, 2001–06

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Chemistry & Public Affairs, committee associate, 2013; International Activities Committee, 2010–12, committee associate, 2009; Committee on Corporation Associates, 2001–12; Development Advisory Board, 2009– ; Presidential Task Force, “Vision 2025: Helping ACS Members Thrive in the Global Chemistry Enterprise,” 2012–13

Member: Member of ACS since 1977. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Committee on Science, Engineering & Public Policy; Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America, Board of Directors; Sigma Xi; Association for Women in Science. ACS Divisions: Analytical Chemistry, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry

Related activities: National Science Foundation, Small Business Innovation Research Advisory Committee, 2010– ; Council for Chemical Research, governing board secretary, 2008–09; National Academies, University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, president, 2008, vice president, 2007, Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, Project on Re-engineering Intellectual Property Agreements, cochair, 2004–06; National Council of University Research Administrators, Board of Directors, 2004, Industry Chair of the Industry-University Conference: Enhancing the Partnership in a Global Economy, 2003; Sigma Xi, Central Michigan Chapter president, 1984; testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation on the topic of the Bayh-Dole Act: The Next 25 Years, 2007; employee of the Dow Chemical Co. holding research positions in Central Research and management positions in technical placement, analytical sciences, and external technology, 1979–2010; hold three patents in catalysis; have given more than 40 invited presentations on topics related to innovation, university-industry research partnerships, treatment of intellectual property in research collaborations, and technology transfer


During the 36 years that I have belonged to ACS, I have served the organization in many ways including active membership on the Committee on Corporation Associates, the International Activities Committee, the Committee on Chemistry & Public Affairs, the Development Advisory Board, and President Marinda Li Wu’s Task Force “Vision 2025: Helping ACS Members Thrive in the Global Chemistry Enterprise.” It would be an honor to now serve the society as a director-at-large. With more than 30 years of experience in the chemical industry as both a researcher and manager at the Dow Chemical Co. and through leadership roles in other professional organizations focused on science, policy, and research, I have demonstrated the knowledge, experience, skills, and energy required to be an effective member of the ACS Board of Directors.

ACS is unique among scientific organizations because it was chartered by the U.S. Congress to encourage the advancement of chemistry; because of the strength and diversity of its membership; because of its global leadership in scientific publishing; and because of its influence in the scientific, educational, and policy communities. The society has clearly articulated its vision, mission, core values, and goals. However, it faces significant challenges in achieving these aspirations and objectives because of globalization of the chemical enterprise, economic uncertainty, decreasing government funding for research, and declining quality of K–12 science education. In order to carry out the strategic plan, the board of directors must work in concert with the society’s committees, divisions, local sections, and staff to establish priorities and make effective use of resources. This requires sound judgment and a practical understanding of how complex organizations operate. I believe that I will bring those qualities to the board of directors. During my tenure at Dow I had the privilege of managing several groups within the global R&D function. This provided me with hands-on experience in setting strategy, negotiating priorities, and managing financial and personnel resources within a large, multinational corporation.

One of the great strengths of ACS is the diversity of its members, who come from academia, industry, and government, working in research, manufacturing, professional services, and education. While we are united by our common interest in chemistry, we are sometimes divided by differing perspectives and priorities. One of the strengths that I can bring to the board of directors is extensive experience in helping groups with conflicting views to find common ground for cooperation. For more than 10 years I have worked proactively to overcome barriers and foster research collaborations across industry, academia, and government. I was one of the founders of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, an organization within the National Academies dedicated to enhancing the value of collaborative partnerships between the academic and industrial sectors. I was also a leader in the Council for Chemical Research, whose mission is to improve chemical innovation through collaboration and advocacy across discipline, institution, and sector boundaries. I served as Dow’s representative, a member of the board of directors, and finally as president.

ACS plays an important role in informing members of government about issues relating to chemistry and the chemical enterprise and in influencing public policy through advocacy. This can have a positive and tangible impact on ACS members by influencing federal funding for research, laws relating to chemical management and the environment, and government programs to promote science education and careers. I have a strong interest in public policy, and I am an active advocate for research and education. I have chaired the policy subcommittees for both ACS Corporation Associates and the Committee on Chemistry & Public Affairs. I have testified before the House Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation on the Bayh-Dole Act, the legislation that enables universities to license inventions stemming from federally funded research. I have also addressed the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology on the importance of university-industry research partnerships in fostering innovation.

Because of my own experiences as a woman in science I have made a personal commitment to increasing diversity and broadening participation within our profession. I have participated in numerous projects to support the advancement of women and underrepresented minorities in the chemical workforce. I have also worked to raise funding for the ACS Scholars Program so that deserving undergraduate students can pursue their interests in chemistry.

I greatly appreciate the personal and professional benefits that I have realized from my membership in ACS, and I would be honored to give back to the organization by serving on the board of directors.


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