If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.




April 24, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 15


Letters to the editor

Re: ACS and death penalty

David W. Christianson’s letter seems to advocate that the American Chemical Society disassociate itself from individuals whose chemistry does not “focus on how to improve human life, not how to end it” (C&EN, March 15, 2021, page 3). However, the editor in chief of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, who provided his expert opinion in a death penalty case, was assisting the law to take its course as humanely as possible, entirely consistent with the ACS constitution. Additionally, for ACS to disassociate itself from, say, all chemists working on ordnance, weapons, and munitions would be rather unfair to them and impoverish the society as a whole. Let’s keep the society’s membership broad.

Tim Royappa
Pensacola, Florida

Active learning

An image of page 7 from the March 15, 2021, issue of C&EN.
Credit: C&EN

The article on faculty beliefs about active learning presented what seems to be flawed logic with insufficient insight (C&EN, March 15, 2021, page 7). The observation that faculty who experienced active learning as students are more likely to teach with it can be inverted to the equally likely situation where active learning is hypothetically the norm and it is then found that students are more likely to follow lecture-based instruction if that is what they experienced. As a lecture-based professor for 40-plus years, I was one of the first to adopt computer-assisted instruction online and off-line, but ultimately lecture based. I wanted to invoke some case-based options but was never able to pull this off. With active learning becoming more fashionable, I (and colleagues) questioned whether the quantity of content would be maintained, as it seemed unlikely, and no answer was available, hence hesitancy to step into that domain, at least on my part. The study provoking the C&EN article mentions course content but seems to have mostly excluded it from any kind of analysis. Hence, I do not find the conclusion of the report useful. Is, for example, 50% content at 90% comprehension different or preferable to 90% content at 50% comprehension? I don’t know the answer, but it is a crucial point.

Paul J. Karol
Palo Alto, California



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.