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For Director-At-Large: Ellen B. Stechel

September 7, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 36

Ellen B. Stechel

Division of Physical Chemistry (Central New Mexico Section). Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.

Academic record: Oberlin College, A.B., 1974; University of Chicago, M.S., 1976, Ph.D., 1978

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2011; keynote speaker, ASME 7th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, 2013; Sandia National Laboratories Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, 2009; Sylvia Stoesser Lecturer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2009; opening plenary speaker, “Sunshine to Petrol,” Netherlands Process Technology Symposium, 2008

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Arizona State University, department of chemistry and biochemistry, professor of practice, 2012– , Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, senior sustainability scientist, 2012– , LightWorks, deputy director, 2012– ; Sandia National Laboratories, Sunshine to Petrol, program managing director, 2007–11, Concentrated Solar Technologies and the Department of Energy’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility, manager, 2011, Emerging Energy Technologies and the climate measurement facility on the North Slope of Alaska, manager, 2008–10, Energy and Infrastructure Futures, manager, 2006–08, on contract to Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Directorate, Office of Research & Development, technology transition champion, 2005–06; Ford Motor Co., North America Engineering, Emissions Compliance Engineering, manager, 2002–05, New Low-Emissions Technology Deployment, technical and program manager, 2001–02, Ford Research Laboratory, Chemistry & Environmental Science, manager, 1999–2001

Service in ACS national offices: Council Policy Committee, 2013; Committee on Nominations & Elections, 2007–12, 2005; Committee on Science, division representative, 2000–08, committee associate, 1998–99; Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service, 2003–04, committee associate, 2002; Journal of Physical Chemistry, senior editor, 1998–2000

Service in ACS offices:Division of Physical Chemistry: councilor, 2001–15; past-chair, 1999; chair, 1998; chair-elect and program chair, 1997; vice chair, 1996; vice-chair-elect, 1995

Member: Member of ACS since 1994. American Physical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science. ACS Division: Physical Chemistry

Related activities: American Physical Society, Division of Computational Physics, Executive Committee, elected member, 2012–15, Topical Group on Energy Research & Applications, Executive Committee, elected member, 2011–13; Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research, Scientific Advisory Committee, member, 2013– ; SolarPACES, International Scientific Committee, member, 2013; Australian Solar Institute, Research Advisory Committee, 2012; Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, editorial board, 2011– ; Department of Energy, Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (federal advisory committee), 2000–08, Computational Materials Science Network, Scientific Oversight Committee, chair, 2003–08, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences & Engineering Division, Committee of Visitors, 2003; 10th International Conference on Properties & Phase Equilibria for Product & Process Design, Scientific Advisory Board, 2004; National Research Council, Chemical Sciences Roundtable, 2001–03; Wayne State University, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Board of Visitors, 2002– ; Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), Book Series Advisory Board, member; industry-sponsored AGS/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Advisory Committee, member; International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry, U.S. National Committee, voting member


What ACS means to me

Watch For Your Ballot

All voting members of ACS will receive ballots enabling them to vote for president-elect. Only members with mailing addresses in Districts III and VI will receive ballots to vote for director from those districts. Only voting councilors will receive ballots for the director-at-large elections.

All ballots will be mailed on Oct. 3. The deadline for voting or return of marked ballots, which may be done online or by paper ballot, respectively, is close of business on Nov. 14.

ACS changed my career trajectory. I discovered that I can make meaningful contributions when investing my time and energy in ACS committees and meetings, which is rewarding in itself. Moreover, I also receive a return in personal growth, developing new skills, gaining fresh perspectives, refining my opinions and priorities, and meeting fascinating people.

Prior to actively engaging in professional societies, I was a “nonbonding orbital,” confident in my scientific capabilities but not my communication or interpersonal skills, content within my comfort zone and naively believing that this was the path to career success. How wrong could I be?

I was fortunate to have colleagues willing to give me a precious gift—constructive feedback about my writing, presentation and interpersonal skills, and the narrowness of my career focus. I had a vice president who encouraged me to engage in a professional society—not just join but actively contribute. I innocently thought this was just my responsibility to give back to my profession and to increase the influence of my organization. What I could not know then was his request would literally alter the course of my career and life.

You cannot give more than you receive in return

Through ACS committees, I have had the privilege of interacting with smart, thoughtful, and generous people with broad experiences and perspectives as well as different lenses on the world. I have also developed and sharpened new skills, broadened my perspective, shaped my worldview, expanded my horizons, extended beyond my comfort zone, developed more courage, and experienced wide-ranging opportunities. My getting involved in ACS and other professional societies ultimately led to the diversification of my career. I have now worked in a national laboratory, focusing on basic research and also the applied side; an industrial company, focusing on research and also product development; a government agency in Washington, D.C.; and academia, as administrative faculty. My getting involved in ACS led to my sitting on a number of advisory committees and editorial boards, organizing symposia and workshops, and being a senior editor of a premier ACS journal. Through each of these diverse experiences and new environments, I meet people with captivating and often surprising stories to tell, demonstrating the true worth of diversity and the value in collaboration. A consistent theme through my assorted set of experiences has been developing the skill to cooperate on collaborative problem solving, decision making, designing new projects to meet objectives and goals, envisioning a future, and building high-performance diverse and multidisciplinary or multifunctional teams.

Some of my most rewarding experiences have been in nurturing concepts collaboratively, enabling ideas to mature and ripen, fostering interactive give-and-take, facilitating people to build on and transform threads rather than identifying fatal flaws, and finally seeing those ideas successfully advanced and enacted.

My priorities and where I expend my energies

Addressing global challenges—Chemical sciences are critically important to addressing the intertwined global challenges of sustainability; health and the environment; energy, food, and water; climate change; dwindling resources; and the economic downturn. ACS can be a catalyst for positive change.

Communication and dissemination—Science, technology, and engineering information resources are fundamental to the mission. ACS produces high-quality journals, unparalleled literature search tools, dynamic national and regional meetings, and electronic delivery. ­Competition is fierce in each dimension. ACS can continue to define the positive front line of communication and ­dissemination.

Advancing the profession of the chemical sciences and the careers of its practitioners—Social capital is a driver for success. ACS consistently advocates for R&D and other policy support and for public-private partnerships as well as serves as a connector among a diverse range of stakeholders who oftentimes have conflicting views and priorities. ACS can stay true to its mission, vision, and core values, using a variety of actions to positively serve the full diversity of its stakeholders.

Being a thought leader—ACS has the opportunity to shape constructive narratives and change destructive ones relating to global challenges, international collaborations, educating a 21st-century workforce, and the health and value of the profession. ACS can influence the ­dialogue that will lead to positive ­actions.

Fostering collaboration, innovation, and diversity—Leading enterprises identify better ways to collaborate, accelerate progress, recognize opportunity, and innovate where others see insurmountable challenges. They harness available energy, drive, and talents from many sources. Innovation is not just creating new products but also thinking and doing things differently, and doing different things. ACS can model positive behaviors of a collaborative innovation culture with inclusive diversity and lead the way.

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