This guest editorial is by Madeleine Jacobs, executive director and CEO of the American Chemical Society.
Chemists of a certain age, including me, will recall the many weeks they spent in the library doing research as a graduate student or a professional chemist using the volumes of Chemical Abstracts from CAS. Today, chemists cannot imagine a world without SciFinder, in the same way that they cannot imagine a world without the Internet and Google. But in fact, it was less than 20 years ago that CAS introduced this unique desktop research tool to the world, a tool which has enabled researchers around the world to do their research faster, more accurately, and more comprehensively.
Last week, Robert J. Massie, the man who led CAS for nearly 22 years during an era of transformation, retired from ACS. In honor of his exemplary service, the main CAS administrative building on the ACS Columbus, Ohio, campus was renamed in his honor by a vote of the ACS Board of Directors. Staff and dignitaries celebrated Bob’s accomplishments in ceremonies on April 2 and 3.
In my view, Bob’s leadership of CAS for the past two-plus decades has been nothing short of astonishing. He joined CAS at a time in 1992 when CAS was struggling with the transition from the print to the digital world. Bob, his management team, and the dedicated staff of nearly 1,300 in Columbus built a record of innovation, attention to quality, focus on customers, sustained growth, global competitive success, and remarkable financial performance that has allowed ACS to fund many programs, products, and services that benefit society at large.
Through Bob’s focus, vision, planning, and execution, CAS has built the most authoritative and comprehensive chemical databases in the world, coupled with easy-to-use technology. Bob’s insights into what was needed by researchers led to the development of SciFinder. Bob also advanced STN, which provides access to key scientific and intellectual property databases and is the premier single source of the world’s disclosed scientific and technical research.
The new CAS president is Manuel Guzman, who has been operating in this capacity since Sept. 30, 2013 (C&EN, Sept. 16, 2013, page 7). Guzman has a long track record in leading and managing information businesses across a wide range of disciplines. His knowledge of the library, education, government, and industry marketplaces, both domestically and internationally, made it possible for him to immediately begin enhancing CAS’s core products, SciFinder and STN, and begin creating new opportunities.
CAS is a first-class operation with a clear and compelling mission, a strong foundation, sound strategy and investment plans, and an extraordinarily capable global team of scientists, technical experts, and colleagues in a range of roles needed to help CAS succeed. Under Guzman’s leadership, CAS has a new strategic plan for growth that should bring it to the next level of excellence.
Who knows what exciting new developments lie ahead that will further transform the way scientists do research? I have a feeling the next 20 years will be even more exciting than the past two decades. Stay tuned!