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For President-Elect: G. Bryan Balazs

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

Credit: Courtesy of G. Bryan Balazs
Photo of G. Bryan Balazs.
Credit: Courtesy of G. Bryan Balazs

California Section. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.

Academic record: Washington & Lee University, B.S. (chemistry), 1985; ITT/Fulbright Scholar, Germany, 1985–86; California Institute of Technology, Ph.D. (chemistry), 1992

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2010; Shirley B. Radding Award, ACS Santa Clara Valley Section, 2009; Walter Petersen Award, ACS California Section, 2004; graduate of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Leadership Program, 2005; Department of Energy, Award of Excellence, 2004; W. R. Grace Chemistry Fellowship, 1991; National Science Foundation Fellowship, 1986; Rhodes Scholarship state finalist, 1985; James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry, 1985; Phi Beta Kappa Sophomore Award, 1983; Stump Prize in German, 1983; Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society, 1982; Phi Lambda Upsilon

Professional positions (for past 10 years): ­Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, associate program leader, 2007– , staff chemist, 2000–07

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Committees, 2010–15; Committee on Committees, Subcommittee for ACS Leadership Institute for New Committee Chairs, 2013; Committee on Education Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board, 2013–15; International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), chair, 2012; IChO International Steering Committee, 2010–13; Pacifichem Organizing Committee, 2006–15; Pacifichem 2015 Young Scholars Program, chair, 2013–15; Committee on Education, 2004–09, chair, 2007–09, consultant, 2010–12, committee associate, 2001–03, Graduate Education Advisory Board, ex officio, 2007–09; ACS Board-Presidential Task Force on Education, 2008–09; Council Policy Committee, (nonvoting), 2007–09; Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs, committee associate, 2006–09; Professional & Member Relations Task Force on Focused Interest Groups, 2008

Service in ACS offices:California Section: councilor, 1999–2013; alternate councilor, 1993–98; chair, 2011, 1998; chair-elect, 2010, 1997; Board of Trustees, 2005–12; Educational Grants Committee, chair, 1999–2013; Long-Range Planning Committee, chair, 1999; Nomination & Election Committee, chair, 2012, 1999; Awards Committee, chair, 2005; Younger Chemists Committee, chair, 1999–2002; Board of Directors, 2010–14, 1997–99

Member: Member ACS since 1987. Phi Beta Kappa; American Association for the Advancement of Science. ACS Division: Professional Relations

Related activities: ACS career consultant; Davidson Institute for Talent Development, chemistry fellowship application judge, 2010–13; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, postdoctoral associate, 1992–94; University of California, Los Angeles, management and project management classes, student; more than 55 journal publications; three patents


It’s a great time to be a chemist!

These are exciting times for chemistry, and the resources and global impact of the American Chemical Society will continue to be needed as we navigate the challenges facing the broader chemical enterprise in the 21st century. Astounding scientific advances continue at an accelerating pace, from a deeper understanding of molecular structure and properties, to new synthesis pathways and the ability to manipulate matter and energy at the molecular level, to cures for diseases, to technologies that address global issues. At the same time, fundamental changes are occurring in many areas: communication tools and human interactions, scientific education and the dissemination of knowledge, and how job seekers navigate the modern work environment whether U.S.-based, through entrepreneurship, or in the context of global companies.

As ACS members, we are well poised to address these challenges through our society’s journals, information resources, scientific meetings, divisions, local sections, and committees. As ACS president, I would be your ambassador for chemistry and our profession, and these are my priorities:

Education is at the foundation of everything we strive to achieve through ACS, illustrated through a history rich with advances from institutions in the U.S. and around the world. Education is prominent in our strategic plan, and all of us are educators in the broadest sense, either directly in the classroom or through our efforts to advance scientific understanding. Amid increasing global connectivity and in a context where education touches on everything from immigration policy to improving living standards to innovation, we need to emphasize three areas:

Greater advocacy for programs to provide earlier exposure to science education, among all groups but especially those for which quality access is lacking

A repositioning of ACS programs and services to address many of the educational pipeline issues, including the retention of students in first-year college chemistry, the transfer issues with two-year to four-year colleges, and the postcollege entrance into either the job market or the transition to graduate school

A clearer definition of our role in an era where digital technologies allow teachers to reach students around the world, starting with an understanding of the forces driving these changes and how we can use them to our advantage

It is important to remember that educated minds will create the new technologies and institutions that provide jobs and careers.


An education in science remains a great investment, and employers want the analytical thinking and advanced skills that result from hiring chemistry graduates. However, ongoing changes in the job market have resulted in talented individuals at all degree and career levels unable to find a job in an area that matches their interests and abilities. I believe we can do more to help, and these are the areas I would emphasize:

Work with potential employers to emphasize that chemistry graduates have the discipline and analytical skills employers are looking for

Enable job seekers to identify a broader set of opportunities including “nontraditional employers” while simultaneously providing more tools to address the dynamic nature of the job search environment

Provide students with better means for identifying potential internships and other in-school employment experiences, and better inform them of the value that employers place on direct work experience

Public Outreach

Chemists solve problems—it’s what we’re good at—and we must raise the public’s understanding of chemistry’s role in addressing the high-impact issues that capture their interest. When the public is engaged and appreciates the value of chemistry for them, we reap the benefit in promoting education and careers for chemists. Here are some specific things we can do:

Partner with recognized public figures to promote the value of science and education; for instance, publicize the chemistry behind the current events that capture the public’s attention

Fully engage more of our “connected” and enthusiastic student members to augment our existing promotion of chemistry by spreading our message through contemporary, digital methods

Use the size and visibility of ACS to connect the broad range of advocacy groups for science, helping to unite these groups in our common mission

Our professional society has a unique combination of assets exhibited by no other scientific society of this magnitude—the vitality of our local sections, the prestige of our technical divisions and publications, and the impact we have on the scientific enterprise. It’s an exciting time for chemists, and I believe my skills and experience are what we need in the office of the ACS president.

For more information, see I would appreciate your vote—together let’s lead the ACS into an exciting future!


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