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Connecting younger chemists

by Natalie LaFranzo, Chair, ACS Younger Chemists Committee
August 28, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 34

Natalie LaFranzo
Credit: Jenn Korman Photography
A photo of Natalie LaFranzo.
Credit: Jenn Korman Photography

The ACS Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) was formed in 1974, with much of the groundwork for the formation laid in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of great unrest. The environment, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and women’s rights were all controversial issues for society, and chemists were in the midst of many of them.

The world continues to be both challenging and exciting for chemists. Politics, science, and technology are all evolving at a rapid pace, and this transformation is creating many opportunities for chemists to make an impact on the changing world.

Since its inception, YCC has been serving the needs of younger chemists, advocating and providing resources for early-career chemists and professionals in the chemical sciences to enable them to contribute to the chemical industry and to society as a whole. YCC serves as a voice for younger chemists within ACS and addresses specific issues they face. Not all younger chemists follow the same career path, so our efforts have always been broad and inclusive.

Around the same time that YCC was formed, the Division of Professional Relations (PROF) was also conceived. In fact, several of the founding members of the Younger Chemists Task Force (which preceded YCC) were involved in the formation of PROF; these members pressed for more employment-related services from the society.

It’s impossible to consider building a network today that limits interactions by engaging chemists only within the U.S.

PROF has a similar vision to that of YCC, most recently defined as “empowering chemical professionals for success in a diverse world.” In this light, PROF is a unique technical division within ACS; it is a home for all chemists and includes focused subdivisions, such as the Younger Chemists subdivision. As such, it’s not surprising that over the years YCC and PROF have been close collaborators.

The ACS of today

Today, YCC and PROF still work closely to support the society’s efforts toward their common goals. YCC is tasked with advising and providing information on topics relevant to younger chemists, both internal and external to ACS. However, our YCC core team is focused and small, with only 33 members and associates who meet in person at each ACS national meeting. So we look to our partnership with PROF and the Younger Chemists subdivision to help build a network of younger chemists with which to engage. This work is closely in line with PROF’s mission of “creating inclusive communities, resources, and programming for the benefit of chemical professionals throughout their careers.”

When you join ACS as a younger chemist, I encourage you to include membership in the PROF Younger Chemists subdivision. This will ensure that you stay up to date on the most recent resources, events, and programs related to career development, science policy, and networking that PROF and YCC offer. Then, please stop by and visit with members of PROF and YCC at regional and national meetings. By coming together in person and virtually, we are building a community that can teach and learn from each other: a network of engaged, passionate scientists.

Growing internationally

As valuable as the ACS younger chemists networks are, it’s impossible to consider building a network today that limits interactions by engaging chemists only within the U.S. As such, YCC is proud to be a founding member of the newly established International Younger Chemists Network (IYCN). An organization envisioned during the International Year of Chemistry in 2011, IYCN aims “to create a unified global network of young chemists to communicate, collaborate, educate, and mentor.”

With official support from the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry, IYCN met for its inaugural meeting as part of the 2017 World Chemistry Congress in São Paolo, Brazil, this July. The full governance meeting was broadcast internationally via Facebook Live. You can find the recording and other news on the IYCN Facebook page:

The world is vast, but through both virtual and physical interactions, IYCN will unite young and early-career professionals who may not have the opportunity to connect otherwise. By participating, younger chemists across the world can broaden their horizons and engage in conversations that are most relevant and powerful on a global scale.

How to stay connected

If you’re a young or early-career chemist and you want to keep up to date with what’s happening in chemistry in your local section, in ACS nationally, and across the world, consider becoming an active member of your local section YCC, the PROF Younger Chemists subdivision, IYCN, or all three networks. There’s no limit to what we can learn from each other.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.



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