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ACS Seeks Champion Communicator

by Sophie L. Rovner
May 19, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 20

Credit: Elaine Seward/ACS
Logo for ACS's 2014 Chemistry Champions video contest.
Credit: Elaine Seward/ACS

If you’re eager to brush up on your science communication skills and you relish some friendly competition, consider entering the American Chemical Society’s new ACS Chemistry Champions contest. Your video entry could win you a free trip to the fall 2014 ACS national meeting in San Francisco, as well as training in explaining chemistry to nonscientists. That training could pay off when you want to describe the pleasures of chemistry to a friend or even when you interview for a job.

The competition is intended to “give younger chemists the opportunity to develop and enhance their communication skills,” says Public Policy Communications Manager Darcy J. Gentleman, who is spearheading the project for ACS.

Modeled loosely on the “American Idol” singing competition series on TV, the contest will winnow the initial entrants down to a small group of semifinalists and ultimately to a single champion. The competition is open to ACS members who are undergraduate or graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or pretenure faculty at U.S. academic institutions.

Details about the contest, including instructions, entry requirements, a release form, and tips on speaking with nonscientists, can be found at

To enter, create a two- to three-minute video in which you describe your research as if you’re speaking with a family member who isn’t a scientist. After posting it on YouTube by 3 PM EDT on June 6, you’ll promote your video via Twitter.

ACS staff will judge the videos by the number of views they garner as well as presentation quality and scientific accuracy. Up to 10 semifinalists will be selected to advance to the second round, which will take place at the fall ACS national meeting. Semifinalists will receive free flights to and from the meeting; hotel accommodation for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night; and $200 toward meeting registration fees.

Semifinalists will hone and deliver their presentations during a private science communication workshop on Saturday, Aug. 9, in San Francisco. ACS staff will select up to five finalists.

The finalists will give their revised presentations before a live public audience on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 10, in San Francisco. A judging panel will provide constructive criticism of the presentations. The winning ACS Chemistry Champion will be selected by a real-time popular vote incorporating Twitter participation.



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