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For president-elect: Willie E. May

September 11, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 36

Credit: Courtesy of Willie E. May
A photo of Willie May.
Credit: Courtesy of Willie E. May

Chemical Society of Washington. University of Maryland, College Park, Md.

Academic record: Knoxville College, B.S., 1968; University of Maryland, Ph.D., 1977.

Honors: ACS Award for Public Service, 2017; Laboratory Director of the Year, Federal Laboratory Consortium, and Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Alabama, Huntsville, 2016; Honorary Doctor of Science, Wake Forest University, 2012; ACS Fellow, 2011; first class of inductees, Knoxville College Alumni Hall of Fame, 2010; University of Maryland College of Chemical & Life Sciences Alumnus of the Year Award, 2007; Henry Hill Award for Exemplary Work & Leadership in the Field of Chemistry, NOBCChE, Science Spectrum Magazine Emerald Award, and Council for Chemical Research Diversity Award, 2005; Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Analytical Chemistry Award, ACS, 2001; Percy Julian Award for Outstanding Research in Organic Analytical Chemistry, NOBCChE, Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Federal Executive, and Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Achievement in Federal Service, 1992; Arthur Flemming Award for Outstanding Federal Service, 1986; Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award for Meritorious Federal Service, 1985; National Bureau of Standards Equal Employment Opportunity Award, 1982; Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award for Superior Federal Service, 1981.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): College of Computer, Mathematical & the Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, director of special research and training initiatives, 2017–; National Institute of Standards & Technology, emeritus director, 2017–, Senate-confirmed under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and 15th director, May 2015–January 2017; acting director, June 2014–May 2015; associate director for laboratory programs, August 2011–June 2014; director of Material Measurement Laboratory, 2010–11, director of Chemical Science & Technology Laboratory, 2004–10.

Service in ACS offices: ACS President’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Minority Affairs; Committee on Minority Affairs, chair, 1996–98.

Member: Member of ACS since 1979. National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers; American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related activities: China’s National Institute for Metrology, advisory board, 2017–; National Commission on Forensic Science, cochair, 2014–17; Marquette University, Ralph Metcalfe Lecturer, and University of Alabama, Huntsville, fall commencement speaker, 2016; one of four keynote speakers for opening session, 2016 ACS fall national meeting; College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland, keynote speaker at the Winter Commencement Ceremonies, 2015; featured in cover story, C&EN, 2015; U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory, advisory board, 2013–; CIPM’s Consultative Committee on Metrology in Chemistry & Biology, president, 2012–; Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, commencement speaker, 2012; International Committee on Weights & Measures (CIPM), vice president, 2010–; Joint Committee on Traceability in Laboratory Medicine, executive board member, 2004–; and College of Life Sciences at the University of Maryland, keynote speaker for Winter Commencement Ceremonies, 2002.

May’s statement

I am Willie E. May and I am honored to be a candidate for ACS president-elect.

The American Chemical Society is one of the most important voices for science and technology in the world. It has a vast international reach and some of the most influential publications in any science and technology field.

As a member of ACS, I’m sure you care about the chemistry profession. But still, you may be wondering, why should I vote? What’s in it for me?

I hope the answers provided below first and foremost inspire your vote. And, if my goals match yours, then please vote for me as your ACS president-elect.

Why it matters

ACS promotes solutions to real-world issues that depend on contributions by chemistry professionals. This matters not just to you and our membership but our entire planet!

What’s in it for you

Members join for many reasons.

▸ Student members use ACS programs to better understand the profession and identify great job opportunities.

▸ Midcareer chemists look to ACS to stay current with advances in the field and with issues confronting chemists and society more broadly.

▸ Senior chemists and retirees rely on ACS for networking with peers as they take on new leadership and mentoring challenges and look for solutions.

ACS helps meet all these needs—world-class publications, professional advice, employment services, continuous-learning classes, and unmatched mentoring opportunities. But we can always do better. We can be more strategic, refine our programs and messages, and speak more effectively on behalf of our members and our profession.

Why your vote for ACS president is so important

Many of our global challenges can be addressed through the power of chemistry.

The ACS president can help broker those solutions. We need an experienced leader who

▸ Has a proven track record of working strategically and productively with all sectors of our economy and society.

▸ Gets the chemistry “big picture” in all its variations from lab to marketplace.

▸ Knows how to build coalitions with academia, companies in all sectors and of all sizes, and government agencies in the U.S. and globally.

▸ Is committed to helping undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and early-career professionals reach their full potential.

I have served in all those leadership roles. Starting from the laboratory bench, I rose through the ranks at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and capped off my government career as under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and NIST director.

I have worked with colleagues from industry, government, and academia in the U.S. and abroad. I have worked with and testified before Congress as well as consulted and worked with corporate CEOs and directors of dozens of scientific and technical societies from around the world. I have created and/or supported programs aimed at advancing the careers of young scientists and engineers.

My plans to advance ACS and its effectiveness

As your president-elect, I want to continue to make a difference. I want to give back in honor of those who taught and mentored me throughout my improbable journey from the projects in Birmingham, Ala., to candidacy for president of the world’s largest scientific society.

I would work to do the following:

Inspire and educate: ACS should play a greater role in shaping policies to expand and inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals—ranging from chemical plant technicians to research investigators in government, academic, and industrial laboratories. We should encourage dialogue with the public, particularly during this time when public interest and confidence in science, data, and facts has been challenged.

Diversify: We should be strong advocates for strengthening institutions serving underrepresented populations. Students from these institutions are an underappreciated and underused resource for skilled workers for the chemical industry. Through ACS assistance with internships and other career opportunities, these untapped pools of talent bring us diversity of thought and innovation.

Grow: Science has no national boundaries. Non-U.S. citizens should be a growth area for recruiting new members, including those working for global companies. Biology is increasingly a quantitative molecular science. We should explore ways to bring more biologists under the ACS tent, including adding relevant conference topics and forums for biologists and biochemists.

Continuously improve: Even a preeminent international scientific organization must stay alert to its members’ needs. The skills and education gained in our 20s and 30s will not sustain us throughout our careers. We should consider establishing an ACS university for continuous learning.

So, I ask for your vote; working together we can bring ACS to the next level of excellence.

Please visit my website at for more information.


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