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For President-Elect: G. Bryan Balazs

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

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; graduate of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Leadership Program, 2005; Walter Petersen Award, ACS California Section, 2004; 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 Freshmen 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, Subcommittee for ACS Leadership Institute for New Committee Chairs, 2013–15, chair, 2015; Committee on Education Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board, 2013–15; Pacifichem 2015 Early Career Chemists Award Program, chair, 2013–15; International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), chair, 2012; Committee on Committees, 2010–15; IChO International Steering Committee, 2010–13; ACS Board-Presidential Task Force on Education, 2008–09; Professional & Member Relations Task Force on Focused Interest Groups, 2008; Council Policy Committee (nonvoting), 2007–09; Pacifichem Organizing Committee, 2006–15; Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs, committee associate, 2006–09; Committee on Education, 2004–09, chair, 2007–09, consultant, 2010–12, committee associate, 2001–03, Graduate Education Advisory Board, ex officio, 2007–09

Service in ACS offices:California Section: councilor, 1999–2016; alternate councilor, 1993–98; chair, 2011, 1998; chair-elect, 2010, 1997; board of trustees, 2005–12; Educational Grants Committee, chair, 1999–2015; 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, 2010–16, 1997–99

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

Related activities: ACS career consultant; Pedrozzi Scholarship Foundation, board of directors, 2013–16, board president, 2014–15; Davidson Institute for Talent Development, chemistry fellowship application judge, 2010–15; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, postdoctoral associate, 1992–94; University of California, Los Angeles, management and project management classes, student; more than 55 journal publications and several book chapters; three patents

Balazs’s Statement

Members are our most important assets. Our profession is in a difficult situation. The employment conditions for chemists have changed considerably in recent years, to an environment where large chemical companies do not hire the majority of recently graduated and established chemists, and continued pressures on federal and state funding for scientific research have made establishing a scientific career especially difficult. In short, it is a challenging time for many of our fellow ACS members, and improving this situation is my top priority.

We are a membership society, yet we continue to lose members who don’t believe ACS can do anything to help them or has anything to offer them. We must change this if ACS, and our profession, is to remain healthy into the future. We must understand the professional needs of all of our members, work to address the employment difficulties that they face, and meet their career and technical needs at every level and in every sector. If we don’t serve our members, we don’t have a membership society. It’s that simple.

I believe that effective solutions to the above issues must involve working more directly with the members who are experiencing these challenges. Our members, and ACS’s combination of technical expertise and credibility partnered with an extensive grassroots structure represented through local sections, divisions, and international chapters, are the strengths that I believe will be part of the solution that we will use to meet all of our members’ needs.

Employment matters. The supply of and demand for chemists are not in equilibrium. Why? Either because there is an oversupply of graduates or because we are not fully preparing our graduates for the jobs that are available, especially with the small businesses and innovative entrepreneurships that offer the majority of employment opportunities. We must also better understand and address the significant implications of global demographic and environmental shifts, changes that will result in the need for chemistry innovations that are relevant to longer life spans and sustainable resources, and the evolving nature of the job opportunities therein. We cannot create jobs, but we can influence our educational system to better prepare students for these future employment trends, and I believe this is where the answer lies. We cannot tolerate an outcome where, after a significant investment in education, the lack of rewarding employment threatens to undermine the scientific potential of many graduating chemists.

Advocacy for our profession. The environment that chemistry faces is one of the most challenging in recent memory, despite the fact that the benefits that chemistry can offer humanity and our world are greater than ever before. Given almost any global challenge, whether health and standard of living, the environment, or energy and clean water, it is clear that chemists will be part of the solution. However, it is not always universally appreciated that sustained efforts in scientific research are required for our overall well-being and that these efforts will be even more necessary for the future. Increasingly, chemistry—and often science in general—is met by the public with distrust, apprehension, confusion, and the resulting lack of enthusiasm, let alone support. We must not simply ignore or dismiss their viewpoints, but we must continue to communicate how chemistry has improved lives around the world and will continue to do so.

We must work together. My vision is that “Chemistry for Life” is not just a catchy slogan but rather that it describes the relationship that ACS has with its members, their careers, and our profession. This slogan must form the basis for engaging the public to support the science that is needed to make the world a better place. I am one person, but together we are a respected and influential society with more than 158,000 members. Together, we can achieve this vision.

Leadership and experience make a difference. For almost three decades, I have led efforts at the local, national, and international levels of ACS in the areas of education, science advocacy, employment, and career development. This breadth has given me the perspective of how ACS operates and what steps are necessary to advance effective initiatives and steward them to completion. It is my experience and commitment that can make a difference. I do not make optimistic promises just for your vote, but I will keep my promise: I will partner with you to address the issues I’ve laid out in this statement, and I pledge to make this my top priority. I would be honored to have your vote.

Thank you. For more information, please visit my website at

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