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For District I Director: Thomas R. Gilbert

September 14, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 36

ACS District I director candidate Thomas R. Gilbert.

Northeastern Section. Northeastern University, Boston

Academic record: Clarkson College of Technology, B.S., 1968; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1971

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2011; Outstanding Teacher of First-Year Students Award, Northeastern University, College of Engineering, 2015, 2013, 2010; Henry A. Hill Memorial Award, 2010; Excellence in Teaching Award, Northeastern University, 1999; Sigma Xi; Gamma Sigma Epsilon

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Northeastern University, associate professor, 1985– ; professional science master’s programs in biotechnology, academic director, 2009–11; School of Education, acting dean, 2004–06

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations, 2014–15; District I, board of directors, director, 2013–15; councilor ex officio, 2013–15; Committee on Professional & Member Relations, 2013–15, Subcommittee on Web Strategy & Innovation, 2013–15; ACS Network Task Force, chair, 2014; Long-Range Planning Subcommittee, chair, 2008–12; Board of Directors Planning Committee, 2008–10; Council Policy Committee (voting), 2007–12, vice chair, 2008–10; Task Force on Election Procedures, chair, 2003–05; Committee on Nominations & Elections, 2001–06, vice chair, 2004–06; Committee on Meetings & Expositions, 1995–2000, chair, 2000

Service in ACS offices:Northeastern Section: councilor, 1990–2013; chair, 1988; chair-elect, 1987; alternate councilor, 1987–89; Centennial Celebration Program, chair, 1998; Nominations Committee, chair, 1989; Long-Range Planning Committee, chair, 1989; Analytical Group, chair, 1983–86. Northeast Regional Meeting: general chair, 1993. Division of Analytical Chemistry: 46th Annual Summer Symposium on Analytical Chemistry, Organizing Committee, cochair, 1993

Member: Member of ACS since 1968. ACS Divisions: Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Education

Related activities: ACS Division of Chemical Education, Examinations Institute, 2000; Analytical Chemistry Examination Committee, 1998–2000; International Symposium on High-Performance Capillary Electrophoresis, Organizing Committee, vice chair, 1998–99, 1993–96; New England Aquarium, research associate director, 1977–81; published 45 journal articles and two general chemistry textbooks (in their 4th and 1st editions); three patents

Gilbert’s Statement

I welcome this opportunity to describe what I have done since being elected to the board of directors from District I and what I hope to do if reelected.

Adding value to ACS membership. When I ran for the board in 2012, I proposed that all ACS members have access to a personalized communications system that would enhance the exchange of information and ideas among members and between them and their local sections, divisions, and national ACS offices. With this system, members would have their own webpages with links to ACS programs of particular interest to them and to colleagues with whom they were collaborating on ACS-sponsored programs and projects. They would also have access to the results of recently published work in their research area, including, for example, the results of SciFinder searches; articles in ACS journals; ACS Presentations on Demand; and presentations at upcoming national, divisional, and regional meetings.

I am very pleased that personalized webpages will soon be a reality. This year ACS is launching ACS Next, which will feature much of the functionality described above. It will enhance the way ACS and its members interact with each other and, I believe, enhance the value of ACS membership. The development of ACS Next has been overseen by the Committee on Professional & Member Relations (P&MR), its Subcommittee on Web Strategy & Innovation (WSI), and, during 2014, the ACS Network Task Force. I have served on P&MR and WSI since joining the board, and last year I chaired the ACS Network Task Force and presented its recommendations to the board. Those recommendations were approved by the board and are being incorporated into ACS Next.

Promoting the chemistry enterprise. Another of my 2012 goals was to make ACS a stronger advocate for investment in scientific research and development. Last year I engaged in ACS’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill and experienced the frustration of advocating for worthwhile legislation before a largely dysfunctional Congress. I have come to better appreciate the need for ACS members to reach out to the general public—to help others understand what we do and how the chemistry enterprise improves their lives. With that understanding, our friends and neighbors may help us elect officials who understand the value of science and technology, who will fund government-sponsored research and—through the permanent R&D tax credits that Congress failed to pass last year—encourage investments in long-term corporate research that will create jobs and grow the U.S. economy.

Regional resources/local action. On a weekend in November 2014, a unique strategic planning workshop took place near Albany organized by the executive committee of the ACS Northeast Regional Meeting. Eleven of us representing nine local sections and the board set goals and strategies for achieving them that focused on expanding and improving the quality of regional meetings through leadership development workshops and other career advancement activities. Regional resources will also be used to support activities in local sections and clusters of sections in the region, including the first regional speakers’ bureau. The success of this initiative could have a major impact on the range of activities that local ACS sections, especially smaller ones, will be able to offer their members in the Northeast and eventually across the U.S.

Education and workforce development. ACS has a key role to play in developing a workforce that can fill the chemistry R&D jobs that are available today and that will be available tomorrow. The nature of these jobs and the skills they require continue to evolve as the boundaries fade away that once separated chemistry from biology, physics, the health sciences, and other fields. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of many of these jobs must be reflected in how chemists are educated. Actually, this education has to start early—in K–12 classrooms—with teachers whose students experience the dynamism of scientific inquiry and gain an appreciation of how we scientists know what we know. The board of directors took a major step in support of these teachers last year when we approved the launch of the American Association of Chemistry Teachers. I supported the AACT proposal even before joining the board and look forward to working with elementary and middle school science teachers and high school chemistry teachers as they create learning activities that are both content-rich and share the sense of investigation and discovery that we chemists find so rewarding.

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