If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



For District IV Director: Rigoberto Hernandez

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

Credit: Courtesy of Rigoberto Hernandez
Photo of Rigoberto Hernandez.
Credit: Courtesy of Rigoberto Hernandez

Georgia Section. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

Academic record: Princeton University, B.S.E., 1989; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1993

Honors: ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, 2014; Outstanding Service Award, ACS Georgia Section, 2012; ACS Fellow, 2010; American Physical Society Fellow, 2011; Vasser Woolley Faculty Fellow, Georgia Tech, 2011–13; Sackler Visiting Chair in Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 2010; Humboldt Research Fellow, 2006–08; American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2005; Goizueta Foundation Junior Professor, Georgia Tech, 2002–06; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2000; Sigma Xi Southeast Regional Young Investigator, 2002, 2000; Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar, 1999; Blanchard Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Georgia Tech, 1999–2001; National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 1997; Feinberg Postdoctoral Fellow, 1994; AT&T Cooperative Research Fellowship Program Fellow, 1989–93; National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, 1989–92; Sigma Xi, member, 1994

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Georgia Institute of Technology: professor, 2009– ; associate professor, 2002–09; Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE), director, 2011– ; Center for Computational Molecular Sciences & Technology, codirector, 2000– ; assistant professor, 1996–2002

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Science, associate member, 2013; Committee on Committees, 2009–12; Committee on Divisional Activities (DAC), 2004–08; Joint DAC/Local Section Activities Committee Subcommittee, cochair, 2005–07; Board Committee on “Minorities in Academe Implementation Team,” 2003–04; Hilde­brandt Award Canvassing Committee, 2002–04

Service in ACS offices:Georgia Section: bylaw councilor, 2012; alternate councilor, 2012–14; councilor, 2003–11; past-chair, 2000; chair, 1999; chair-elect, 1998; Herty Award Committee, chair, 2006– ; 75th Herty Medal Celebration, chair, 2009; Herty Medal Undergraduate Research Symposium, founding chair, 2006–10. Computers in Chemistry Division: alternate councilor, 2013–15

Member: Member of ACS since 1992. American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Physical Society; Biophysical Society. ACS Divisions: Computers in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry

Related activities: Georgia Tech faculty, Executive Board, 2013–16; Sloan Foundation, Minority NSF STEM Ph.D. Advisory Committee, 2013–14; NIH MSFB Study Section, 2009–13; Research Corporation Cottrell Scholars Advisory Committee, 2011–16; National Academies Board on Chemical Sciences & Technology, 2007–10; Telluride Science Research Center, Board of Directors, 2007–09; Morehouse College chemistry department, External Review Committee, 2007; Steering Committee for NSF Workshop on Complexity & Emergent Phenomenon, 2007; Steering Committee for NSF Workshop on Excellence Empowered by a Diverse Workforce, 2007; National Academies Committee on Advanced Chemical Imaging, 2005–06; published more than 65 peer-reviewed articles

Hernandez’ STATEMENT

The American Chemical Society is our fellowship. It provides both physical and virtual meeting places for networking with like-minded chemists. ACS has brilliantly recognized that the meaning of like-minded is both very diverse and evolving. It includes many different flavors of chemistry such as molecule making, measuring, and simulating; it ranges through the fundamental sciences, engineering, and manufacturing. ACS also recognizes that chemistry has a human side and it must be diverse. The challenge lies in continuing to adapt our structure to best serve the needs of our fellowship.

I see three areas of which we must be ever mindful: The value proposition of ACS membership, Education of the chemical workforce, and Science advocacy. While these can be viewed through an American lens, we must also continue to build international sensitivity and perspective. The diversity in age, experience, backgrounds, race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, and abilities that makes our fellowship stronger must be addressed through everything we do. My championing of diversity equity on task forces, on boards, and as the OXIDE director demonstrates my strong commitment to advancing these critical issues within the chemical workforce.

ACS is a place for students, experienced professionals, and everyone in between to find common ground in our commitment to advancing the chemical sciences. This manifests itself physically in our national, regional, and local section meetings, in our journals, and in other products and services. These are all valuable, but only a fraction of membership takes advantage of them at any given time. The reality is that each of us maintains our membership because we carefully select the ACS offerings that matter to us. The challenge lies in offering a sufficiently wide spectrum of support to our members within a fixed budget. As a board member, I would aim to sharpen these offerings with a judicious balance between physical and virtual services.

Education is not limited to the boundaries of a classroom. Fundamentally, education is about transferring understanding between people. I have routinely taught in college classrooms. But I have also taught the public about the importance of science through public lectures, taught kids in K–12 classrooms about the relevance of science to their everyday world, and mentored countless undergraduate and postgraduate students throughout this country and abroad. Emerging technologies are enhancing the ways that any of us can facilitate such discourse. ACS’s challenge lies in adapting how we enable the exchange of ideas about the chemical sciences in response to how our members wish to educate and be educated. This includes the balance between emerging ways to teach many students simultaneously and efficiently (for example, massive open online courses [MOOCs]) and/or a few students through labor-intensive but effective mentor/apprentice models. As a board member, I will strive to embrace technology in enhancing the ways that ACS supports educators and in the ways that we educate each other.

People advance the chemical sciences, and the products of those advances affect all of us. That is why our nation’s citizens need to support the basic sciences and engineering, and the chemical ones in particular. This is not and should not be a partisan issue because our economy critically depends on the pace at which we advance our understanding of molecules and their assemblies. ACS has a strong program in legislative and government affairs, with which I have been happy to work for more than 10 years. I have visited the offices of both Republican and Democratic members of Congress in support of advancing science. The key to success in those discussions is good preparation (expertly provided by ACS’s Office of Legislative & Government Affairs) and an unwavering focus on the topic during discussion with congressional staffers. If elected, I plan to use my position on the board to catalyze both my and your interactions with our government. I believe that together we can raise the awareness and appreciation of political leaders and their advisers for the transformative power of chemistry to advance our nation.

These three initiatives reflect my priorities for helping our society become a better home for its members and a more effective partner to the world. The running thread that we must advance through these and other initiatives, however, is you. ACS programs can be effective only if they serve your needs and advance your goals. I look forward to hearing from you through links at to learn more about how to make our ACS fellowship even stronger. Your vote would give me the opportunity to work with you and our fellow ACS members to improve your ACS.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.