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For Director-at-Large: Joseph A. Heppert

September 12, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 36

Photograph of Joseph A. Heppert

Wakarusa Valley Section. University of Kansas, Lawrence

Academic record: San José State University, B.S., 1978; University of Wisconsin, Ph.D., 1982; Indiana University, postdoctoral fellow, 1985

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2012; University of Kansas Leading Light Award, 2012; Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, 2002; University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence Graduate Teaching Award, 1998; Keeler Intra-University Professor, 1998

Professional positions (for past 10 years): University of Kansas, associate vice chancellor for research, 2009– , chemistry chair, 2005– , professor, 2001– , Center for Science Education, director, 2001–09

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Budget & Finance, 2013–15, vice chair, 2015–16, committee associate, 2011–12; Task Forces on Program Valuation & Metrics, 2013–14; ACS Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition National Advisory Board, 2011–14; ACS Joint Board President’s Task Force on Education, 2009–10; Committee on Education, 2002–10, chair, 2004–06, committee associate, 2000–01; ACS President’s Task Force on Competitiveness, 2007–08; Governance Review Team A, 2007; ACS Program Review Advisory Group 2005–06; Council Policy Committee, (nonvoting) 2004–06

Service in ACS offices:Wakarusa Valley Section (formerly the University of Kansas Section): councilor, 1997–2017; chair, 2004, 1993; chair-elect, 2003, 1992; ­alternate councilor, 1994–96; treasurer, 1991. Midwest Regional Meeting: general meeting cochair, 2017; program chair, 2002

Member: Member of ACS since 1979. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, National Science Teachers Association, American Association of Chemistry Teachers, Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research. ACS Divisions: Chemical Education, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry

Related activities: University of Kansas Medical Center, Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation, advisory board member, 2015; ACS Legislative Summit, participant, 2008; Sen. Pat Roberts Advisory Committee on Science, Technology & the Future, past member; University of Kansas Center for Science Education, past director; University of Kansas Faculty and University Senate Executive Committees, past chair; Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (NSF Engineering Research Center), education director; Advanced Academy of Georgia Board of Directors, past member

Heppert’s statement

All chemists can be proud of the work we accomplish through ACS. ACS is acknowledged as one of the world’s top professional scientific societies. The value proposition that motivates chemists to associate with ACS is multifaceted: scholarly information, education, professional activities and employment, advocacy for STEM issues, and fellowship with like-minded chemical scientists. ACS does a remarkable job accommodating these broad needs under a single umbrella. As we look to the coming decade, I believe the society needs to expend particular effort in these and related areas that represent challenges and opportunities for the future of the society.

Chemical jobs. Over the past 75 years, the international chemical industry, led by U.S. chemical innovation, has ushered the world into a healthier, more prosperous, and increasingly more environmentally conscious era. The chemical industry, along with all of its client and supplier businesses, has long been a key strength of the U.S. economy. The potential for erosion of this mainstay of economic prosperity and employment explains membership concerns about ongoing structural changes in U.S. chemical businesses.

Regardless of the changing structure of the U.S. high-technology industry, ACS members know that chemical innovation must continue to play a central role in driving U.S. competitiveness. Without sustained chemical entrepreneurship, we will stifle one important pathway for developing chemical innovations critical to the vitality of the high-tech industry. ACS needs to advocate for chemical entrepreneurs on a national level and help connect the originators of promising technologies in industry and academics with resources needed to successfully launch new product lines and chemistry start-ups. The society must encourage talented chemists and chemical engineers to obtain the business and political skills and experiences required to become discerning leaders of and advocates for U.S. chemical businesses.

Chemical education. Degrees in chemistry provide an excellent foundation for career paths in chemical-, biotechnology-, and materials-related industries and in business, teaching, and government service. Leadership from members of the Division of Chemical Education and the Committee on Professional Training has created greater traction for innovation in undergraduate curricula over the past decade. However, the society needs to go further to ensure that graduate and undergraduate students are prepared for the rapidly changing environment in high-technology employment. Undergraduate students need expanded access to research at chemistry’s disciplinary interfaces, and all students should have opportunities to explore strategies for applying their knowledge of chemistry in parallel career paths such as information science, biotechnology, law, international relations, and government service. More students need to learn how to take processes from conception to the market through experiences in makerspaces, internships in high-technology businesses, and participation in entrepreneurship training. ACS has already conducted experiments in many of these areas and must advocate for providing these opportunities earlier in the formal educational process.

Building on existing ACS strengths. ACS programs, including Project SEED, ACS Scholars, and local section outreach, are already working to increase the diversity of student populations studying in STEM fields. ACS needs to redouble its efforts in these areas. The society can play an increased role in advocating for federal, state, and local programs to enhance STEM education and in ACS sponsorship of programs bringing the wonder of the chemical sciences to students from underrepresented populations.

ACS remains the world’s premier source of chemical science knowledge, which is an important value proposition for scientists who associate with the society. Recent changes in ACS Publications and information services have been very popular among academic and industry client bases. As the society considers strategies for retaining younger scientists, we need to examine how these individuals access and consume scientific information and how we can adapt society programs beyond Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) and Pubs to support this critical segment of our membership.

The vast majority of scientific professionals are appalled by a governmental climate that seems to marginalize the role of scientific knowledge in policy-making, sidetrack programs to build high-quality STEM education, and disregard the urgent need to support research that leads to technological innovation. ACS must sustain support for its Office of Public Affairs while seeking additional partnerships to publicly support science with like-minded stakeholders among other scientific societies and technology-related businesses.

It is truly an honor to have been asked to stand for election to an at-large seat on the ACS Board of Directors. If elected, I will work with ACS members and with other representatives on the board to support society policies, practices, and programs that will address these and other questions of importance to ACS members.

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