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Biological Chemistry

Outlook For 2016

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
January 18, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 3

What does 2016 hold in store for the chemical sciences enterprise? If that question piques your interest, I’d like to direct your attention to two recent features.

The first is this week’s cover story: “U.S. Policy Outlook 2016” (see page 10). In this annual feature we look at what to expect from Congress in the coming year. Sadly, science observers say, “not much.” This is an election year, which means the congressional calendar will be cut back so legislators can go back home and campaign. In all likelihood, the beginning of the year will see most of the action, with a dearth of activity toward the end as the election nears.

One piece of legislation that is likely to pass is the revamp of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. law that governs commercial chemicals. Two reform bills were passed last year, but there are significant differences between the versions in the Senate and House of Representatives. There is optimism, however, that TSCA is likely to receive an overhaul early in 2016.

The second is our “World Chemical Outlook,” which appeared in last week’s issue (C&EN, Jan. 11, page 8). The mood is optimistic in business too, with forecasts of continued growth thanks to low energy prices and high demand in industries such as pharmaceuticals and auto manufacturing.

The consensus is that 2015 was a good year for the chemical enterprise globally, with regions such as the U.S., for example, experiencing an increase in chemical output of 3.8%. This good wind is likely to continue, and growth in the U.S. market is forecast to be 3.1% this year. In Europe the forecast for growth in chemical production in 2016 is 1.0% (the region continues to benefit from low oil prices), up from 0.5% in 2015. In Asia, while the region continues to be affected by an economic slowdown, 2016 is expected to be a great year for the Indian economy, whose growth is expected to exceed that of China.

Here at C&EN, we’re as busy as ever in 2016, and we need your help with a couple of initiatives.

First, we’d like your help to identify some top workplaces to feature in a story we’ll be publishing on March 28. We all know that finding good work-life balance is becoming more and more of a challenge. There is of course a personal aspect to this, but working for an organization that is supportive makes a significant difference. Some companies, for example, offer flexible schedules or allow working from home, support working parents, provide vacation time and benefits, and more. If you know of or have worked for a company that excels at fostering this balance, we want to hear from you. Please visit before Jan. 22 and complete the brief survey. You’ll also be entered in a drawing for a $100 gift card.

We are also looking for an intern. Every year, a budding science writer has the chance to work at C&EN for three to six months to hone his or her skills alongside our reporters and editors. Besides learning about our processes and how the magazine is assembled on a weekly basis, our intern will have the opportunity to fine-tune his or her ability to convey complex technical subjects and develop a nose for news.

Nowadays, the C&EN intern is also encouraged to take part in the creation of multimedia pieces to accompany written stories as well as other initiatives such as social media. As a result, our intern has the opportunity to get involved in the promotion of the content he or she produces while ensuring it reaches the largest possible audience. If you know of anybody—a student attending your lectures, a Ph.D. in your lab, or a family member—that you think has the talent, ambition, and motivation to become a great science communicator, please direct that candidate to The deadline to apply is Feb. 19.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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