Nancy B. Jackson, former president of the American Chemical Society, died Jan. 3 at age 65 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jackson served as ACS president in 2011, declared by the United Nations to be the Year of Chemistry.
Jackson earned a BS in chemistry from George Washington University in 1979. After college, she worked in the ACS education division before leaving to pursue chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned an MS in 1986 and a PhD in 1990.
In 1991, she started a decades-long career at Sandia National Laboratories, first as an energy researcher, then as manager of the Chemical and Biological Sensing, Imaging, and Analysis Department, and later as deputy director of the International Security Center. She retired from Sandia in 2017 as a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff.
Jackson had Seneca heritage and served for 2 years as Sandia’s tribal government liaison. She worked with tribal colleges to expand their science programs and helped support marginalized students in science, technology, engineering, and math through the Science and Technology Alliance. In 2005, she received the American Indian Science & Engineering Society’s Professional of the Year Award.
Jackson was the founder and manager of the International Chemical Threat Reduction Department in Sandia’s Global Security Center. She worked with the US Department of State to establish the Chemical Security Engagement Program, aiming to reduce the threat of the misuse of chemicals by raising awareness of chemical safety internationally. In 2012, she received the AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy for her involvement in the program and for “developing, nurturing, and advancing careers of scientists worldwide, with a special emphasis on women scientists in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.” In 2014, Jackson was named a Franklin Fellow by the US Department of State.
During her time in the ACS presidential succession, Jackson worked to expand the society’s international collaborations and traveled extensively to meet with chemists and chemical engineers, in particular women.
“The firmament of chemistry has lost one of its brightest stars. As ACS president, Nancy focused on member needs wherever they were. She hugely increased ACS’s visibility and partnerships around the world,” says Madeleine Jacobs, former CEO of ACS. “She was a brilliant, vivacious, funny, and empathetic chemist. She will be greatly missed.”
Jackson is survived by her husband, James Miller, and her sons, Christopher Miller and Jackson Miller. Gifts can be made in Nancy Jackson’s name to the ACS Scholars Program at www.acs.org/donate.