Scenes From The ACS Meeting

The ACS national meeting was held last week in Washington, D.C., and I attended numerous governance functions, award presentations, luncheons, dinners, and the like. Here are a few highlights from my week. Several heads of foreign chemical societies attended the open meeting of the ACS Board of Directors on Sunday and were invited to make comments to the board. In his comments, Wolfram Koch, executive director of the German Chemical Society, said: “Chemistry should no longer be seen as the problem, as it was for decades, but now as the indispensible solution to the global challenges we face. Sustainable development on this Earth does not mean less chemistry, but more chemistry.” At a roundtable on the National Chemistry Olympiad (NCO) and U.S. participation in it, Arden P. Zipp, chair of the Chemistry Olympiad Subcommittee of the Society Committee on Education, noted that the structure of this year’s NCO study camp had been changed. The 20 students who attended the camp had 11, instead of 14, days of instruction, lab work, and testing. The six students who were selected to represent the U.S. at the international competition then had three days of intensive one-on-one laboratory instruction to prepare them. (The team is allowed to spend a total of only 14 days together preparing for the Olympiad.) The result? The best finish for the U.S. team since 2002, with one gold and three silver medals. More important, the students did dramatically better in the lab portion of the event than did previous competitors. Zipp noted that 125 of ACS’s 189 local sections participated in this year’s selection process and that he and the rest of the subcommittee would like that number to grow. The event celebrating the inaugural class of ACS Fellows occurred on Monday afternoon. Well over 100 of the 162 fellows who were selected in July attended the event (C&EN, July 27, page 62). At least as many well-wishers crowded into the ballroom of the J. W. Marriott Hotel. Each new fellow received a certificate and lapel pin. Bruce E. Bursten, ACS immediate past-president, said to the fellows in his opening remarks: “This is likely the first time you have been recognized for both your scientific achievements and your service to ACS. You have contributed in significant ways to addressing challenges facing our world and our society and in communicating the power of chemistry.” I have a strong sense that recognition as an ACS Fellow will rapidly become an important component of ACS membership and that the event welcoming new fellows will be a fixture of the fall national meeting. Bursten deserves an enormous amount of credit for his efforts to create the fellows program. After the ACS Fellows celebration, I headed to the Washington Plaza Hotel to hear DuPont Chief Innovation Officer Thomas M. Connelly Jr. give a talk on “Market Driven Innovation.” Connelly was receiving the ACS Division of Business Development & Management’s 2009 Henry F. Whalen Jr. Award for Business Development & Management. Connelly gave a number of examples of how DuPont is translating megatrends—such as the need to increase food production or the need to decrease dependence on petroleum—into market opportunities. He pointed out that although invention occurs in the laboratory, “innovation must take place in the market.” Connelly used DuPont’s development of the insecticide Rynaxypyr and its work on biofuels to illustrate how DuPont is “identifying opportunities based on deep market knowledge.” There was a lot more to attend, of course, but there isn’t nearly enough room on this page to capture it all. At the Women Chemists Committee Luncheon, for example, Michelle V. Buchanan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory gave an inspirational talk on “Career Lessons You Don’t Learn in School.” Also at WCC’s luncheon, Stefanie Sacknoff, who is pursuing a B.S. in biochemistry at the University of San Diego, received the 2009 Overcoming Challenges Award. Her story of overcoming severe health problems that began when she was eight months old was nothing short of remarkable. Thanks for reading.

Author: Rudy Baum

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