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For President-Elect: Thomas R. Gilbert

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

Photograph of 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: Outstanding Teacher of First-Year Students Award, Northeastern University, College of Engineering, 2015, 2013, 2010; ACS Fellow, 2011; 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, department of chemistry and chemical biology, acting chair, 2015−16, professional science master’s programs in biotechnology, academic director, 2009−11, School of Education, acting dean, 2004−06, associate professor of chemistry and education, 1999−2006

Service in ACS national offices: Task Force on Web-Based Resources for Volunteers, chair, 2015− ; Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations, 2014−15; Board of Directors, District I, 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; Council Policy Committee, (voting) 2007−12, vice chair, 2008−10; Board of Directors Planning Committee, 2008−10; Committee on Nominations & Elections, 2001−06, vice chair, 2004−06; Task Force on Election Procedures, chair, 2003−05; Committee on Meetings & Expositions, 1995−2000, chair, 2000

Service in ACS offices:Northeastern Section: councilor, 1990−2013; Centennial Celebration Program, chair, 1998; Long-Range Planning Committee, chair, 1989; Nominations Committee, chair, 1989; alternate councilor, 1987−89; chair, 1988; chair-elect, 1987; 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, associate director of research, 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 touch briefly on what I would strive to accomplish if elected president of the American Chemical Society. For more details, please go to

Connecting with our members/growing our membership. Through my years of service in ACS, I have gained a deep appreciation for the many things that ACS does and does well. However, I’m also convinced that there are some things we need to do better, starting with making membership in ACS more valuable for more chemistry professionals. I believe that addressing this value proposition is essential if we are to reverse recent declines in membership and get ACS growing again.

My growth plans start with our youngest members. If elected, I will work with the council’s Membership Affairs and Younger Chemists Committees to launch a program whose goal will be to recruit as student members and retain as full members a majority of the more than 50,000 students currently enrolled in ACS-approved baccalaureate programs. I will host focus groups of students presenting posters at national and regional ACS meetings to assess their interest in (and access to) student chapter activities such as those supporting professional skill building, career planning, and public outreach emphasizing interactions with K–12 and community college students from underrepresented groups.

For midcareer chemists, my focus will be on the growing number of them who work in industries that require knowledge and skills that cross the boundaries that once separated chemistry from biology and the health sciences on the one hand and physics and materials science on the other. It is essential that ACS, through its expanding list of journals and programming at its meetings, be seen as a principal source of information and ideas in these evolving research areas. Only then will scientists working in these areas (and their supervisors) recognize the value of ACS membership. Therefore, if elected, I will organize presidential symposia for the 2018 national meetings featuring advances in “chemistry at the boundaries” that will be organized by the industries the research supports.


The interdisciplinary nature of many of the new jobs in the chemical sciences needs to be reflected in how chemists are educated. This education has to start early—in K–12 classrooms. ACS took a major step in support of precollege teachers in 2013 when we launched the American ­Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). I supported the AACT proposal, and if elected, I look forward to expanding my work with elementary and middle school science teachers and high school chemistry teachers to include teachers from across the country as they create learning activities that are both content-rich and share the sense of investigation and discovery that we chemists find so rewarding.

I would also work with the Committee on Professional Training, the Society Committee on Education, and federal funding agencies to put into practice the recommendations of our Presidential Commission on Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences. This country can no longer afford to have colleges and universities preparing graduate students for jobs that no longer exist, forcing them to continue their preparation for the job market through years of postdoctoral research. These perpetual postdocs are victims of a system that is inefficient and unfair. I believe ACS should take the lead in developing guidelines for Ph.D. programs in chemistry that align students’ graduate experiences with the knowledge and skills (and not just laboratory skills) they need to succeed in today’s chemical enterprise and, indeed, to serve as future leaders of the American Chemical Society.

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