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For District IV Director: Rigoberto Hernandez

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

Photograph of Rigoberto Hernandez

Georgia Section. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

Academic record: Princeton University, B.S.E., 1989; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1993

Honors: Transformational Research & Excellence in Education (TREE) Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, 2016; Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, 2015–16; Diversity Award, Council for Chemical Research, 2015; ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, 2014; Diversity Champion Award, Georgia Tech, 2013; Vasser Woolley Faculty Fellow, Georgia Tech, 2011–13; Outstanding Service Award, ACS Georgia Section, 2012; American Physical Society Fellow, 2011; ACS Fellow, 2010; Sackler Visiting Chair in Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 2010; Humboldt Research Fellow, 2006–08; Goizueta Foundation Junior Professor, Georgia Tech, 2002–06; American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2005; Sigma Xi Southeast Regional Young Investigator, 2002, 2000; Blanchard Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Georgia Tech, 1999–2001; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2000; Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar, 1999; National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 1997; Feinberg Postdoctoral Fellow, 1994; Sigma Xi, member, 1994; AT&T Cooperative Research Fellowship Program Fellow, 1989–93; NSF Graduate Fellow, 1989–92

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Johns Hopkins University, Thomas E. Gompf Professor, 2016– ; Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE), director, 2011– ; Georgia Institute of Technology, professor, 2009–16, associate professor, 2002–09, Center for Computational Molecular Science & Technology, codirector, 2000–16

Service in ACS national offices: Board of Directors, District IV, director, 2014–16; councilor ex officio, 2014–16; Committee on Budget & Finance, 2016–18, associate member, 2015; Committee on Grants & Awards, 2014–16; Committee on Professional & Member Relations, 2014; Committee on Science, associate member, 2013; Committee on Committees, 2009–12; Committee on Divisional Activities (DAC), 2004–08; Joint DAC-Local Section Activities Committee Subcommittee, cochair, 2005–07; Board Committee on “Minorities in Academe Implementation Team,” 2003–04; Hildebrandt Award Canvassing Committee, 2002–04

Service in ACS offices: Georgia Section: Herty Award Committee, chair, 2006–16; alternate councilor, 2012–13; bylaw councilor, 2012; councilor, 2003–11; Herty Medalist Undergraduate Research Symposium, founding chair, 2006–10; 75th Herty Medal Celebration, chair, 2009; past-chair, 2000; chair, 1999; chair-elect, 1998. Computers in Chemistry Division: alternate councilor, 2013

Member: Member of ACS since 1992. American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, Biophysical Society. ACS Divisions: Computers in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry

Related activities: Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Advisory Committee, 2011–17, chair, 2016–17; American Association for the Advancement of Science, STEM Education Review Committee, 2015–16; Georgia Tech Faculty Executive Board, 2013–16; Sloan Foundation, Minority NSF STEM Ph.D. Advisory Committee, 2013–16; NIH MSFB Study Section, 2009–13; National Academies Board on Chemical Sciences & Technology, 2007–10; Telluride Science Research Center, Board of Directors, 2007–09; Morehouse College chemistry department, External Review Committee, 2007; Steering Committee for NSF Workshop on Complexity & Emergent Phenomenon, 2007; Steering Committee for NSF Workshop on Excellence Empowered by a Diverse Workforce, 2007; National Academies Committee on Advanced Chemical Imaging, 2005–06; published more than 95 peer-reviewed articles

Hernandez’s statement

The most important element in ACS membership is you. Every one of us, cross-linked together through ACS, makes up a personal and professional chemistry network that we can leverage to advance our careers, each other, and chemistry as a whole. Through ACS, we can celebrate that chemistry has a human side, and it must be diverse. The challenge lies in continuing to adapt our structure and our offerings to best serve the broad needs of our fellowship. This is a challenge that cannot be solved once and for all because we, and the world around us, are constantly changing. The opportunity for advancing the interaction and support of chemical scientists like you is what drove me to volunteer to serve as district director, and it is why I would like to continue for another term.

I have focused on three of ACS’s core values: the value proposition of ACS membership, education of the chemical workforce, and science advocacy. The diversity in age, experience, background, worldwide location, race, ethnicity, gender identity and orientation, and ability that makes our fellowship stronger must be addressed through these values and everything we do. My championing of diversity equity on task forces and boards and as the director of OXIDE (Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity) demonstrates my strong commitment to advancing these critical issues within the chemical workforce. As a director, I have spoken with many of you at regional and national meetings, and I wrote two comments in C&EN (July 14, 2014, page 45, and Aug. 24, 2015, page 40) promoting diversity equity and inclusive excellence.

ACS remains as relevant and necessary today as when it was founded, despite the flattening in accessing information through the internet. As members, you and I are voting affirmatively with our wallets, declaring that chemistry and our network are important. Through this collective action, we are empowering ourselves as a force for change in areas such as energy, sustainability, and human health. Nevertheless, our ACS, like many other societies, is facing the challenge of decreasing membership. This is a tide that we must stem. Our size gives us the diversity we need to advance our science. It also signifies a vote of confidence for all of our advocacy and outreach activities. As an ACS director, I will remain a strong proponent for providing clarity to the value proposition of our membership to each of our present and future members.

Diversity of the emerging chemical workforce translates into a need for using multiple mechanisms in and out of the classroom to engage students in the educational process. As a Phi Beta Kappa lecturer, I have had the opportunity to engage, motivate, and mentor undergraduates though campus visits that provide small-group interactions going well beyond my classroom. (Check out undergraduate Linsey Liles’s recap of my visit to the University of the South in the Key Reporter.) If elected, I hope to continue such visits by engaging local chapters as hosts. I am also keenly aware for the need to continue professional education. I have been involved as a facilitator in the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative New Faculty Workshop (C&EN, March 24, 2014, page 36). I am also leading a team organizing the Academic Leadership Workshop aimed at supporting midcareer faculty to become university administrators or research center directors (C&EN, March 7, page 47). These programs illustrate the power of ACS to catalyze educational opportunities for chemical scientists throughout our lives.

Advances in chemical science and innovation depend critically on public and private support. Advocacy for such efforts can succeed only if we make our science understandable to the public. It is particularly critical for advancing high-risk, high-potential science that tends to receive less funding when budgets are tight (C&EN, Sept. 21, 2015, page 33). Again, ACS as a professional society is uniquely positioned to provide current understanding of science and to advocate for the chemical challenges that still remain to be understood. I have enjoyed working with ACS staff in advocating for chemical science and the people who do that work.

Through these priorities, I will aim to help our society become a better home for its members and a more effective partner to the world. The resonating thread that we must advance through these and other initiatives is you. ACS programs can be effective only if they serve your needs and advance your goals. To this end, I look forward to hearing from you through links at to learn more about how to make our ACS fellowship even stronger. I also ask for your vote so that I may continue to work with you and our fellow ACS members to improve your ACS.

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