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This And That from #acsanaheim

I arrived in Anaheim on Thursday, March 24. As usual everyone has been busy throughout the meeting.

          As it always does at national meetings, the C&EN Editorial Board met at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. The C&EN Editorial Board monitors the editorial health of the magazine and adjudicates disputes between the C&EN editor-in-chief and ACS members, among other duties. Two of the seven members of the board are the ACS president and chair of the board of directors, so the C&EN Editorial Board has to meet early to free them for meetings scheduled throughout the rest of the day.

          Which I love. It means the most important governance meeting I attend is the first thing that happens all week. It’s not that it’s all downhill from there, but it certainly takes some pressure off.

          One of the points I made in my presentation to the board is that C&EN is not just a print publication any more. Yes, about 96,000 ACS members still take the print edition and it is still our flagship product, but consider:

  • The electronic edition of C&EN is increasingly popular, with 67% of members living outside of North America taking it and 16% of members living in North America taking it.
  • C&EN Online had 14.3 million page downloads in 2010, an 11.7% increase over 2009; 28% of those downloads were “Latest News” stories, which means that people are using the site to keep them up to date on developments in the chemistry enterprise.
  • C&EN introduced two news channels to ACS journal home pages in 2010, the Environmental SCENE and the Analytical SCENE; we will introduce two to four more news channels this year.
  • CENtral science was reinvented in 2010 as a network of focused blogs, now numbering 10, with three—Terra Sigillata, Just Another Electron Pusher, and Transition States—hosted by people not on C&EN’s staff.

There’s more, but I think you get the idea. The C&EN brand includes much more than the magazine you’re familiar with. And there’s more to come. Like C&EN Mobile.

          On Saturday, I attended the Society Committee on Budget & Finance meeting. This committee is a large, serious, august group, as well they should be. ACS had a very good year in 2010, ACS Treasurer Brian Bernstein reported to B&F. The annual audit is now completed, and the net from operations in 2010 was $23.8 million, the highest on record and the seventh consecutive year of positive results. Total revenue was $463.7 million (0.8% growth over 2009), which translates into a return on revenue of 5.3%, the highest since 1984. The society’s unrestricted net assets now stand at $130.3 million, still down from before the Great Recession but moving very much in the right direction.

          Two of the titans of the chemistry enterprise celebrated landmark birthdays in conjunction with the national meeting. On Saturday, I drove from Anaheim to Pasadena to attend the Harry Fest at Caltech, a 75th birthday bash for chemistry professor Harry B. Gray that drew more than 300. On Sunday evening, a slightly smaller but no less enthusiastic group of colleagues and former students gathered for a reception and dinner to mark Columbia University chemistry professor Ronald Breslow’s 80th birthday.

          The ACS Board of Directors held its open meeting on Sunday morning. Several foreign dignitaries visiting ACS at the meeting discussed their chemical societies’ activities during the International Year of Chemistry. Of special note, ACS Board Chair Bonnie Charpentier, ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs, and Soon Ting-Kueh, the

Charpentier (from left), Soon Ting-Kueh, and Jacobs sign MOU between ACS and FACS during the ACS Board of Directors open meeting in Anaheim

immediate past president of the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies signed a memorandum of understanding committing ACS and FACS to several mutually beneficial activities over the next three years.

          C&EN Assistant Managing Editor Sophie Rovner posted on Newscripts on the presidential event on chemistry and Hollywood. As Rovner notes in her post, the large hall was packed, and what was particularly gratifying was that it was packed with young faces. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many young ACS members in one place at one time. It bodes well for our organization’s future.

          Rovner notes that University of Oklahoma chemistry professor Donna J. Nelson became the science advisor the television series “Breaking Bad” after reading about the dark program in a story in C&EN. What I wanted to stand up and say is that C&EN received several letters to the editor after that story appeared criticizing the magazine for publishing it. C&EN shouldn’t have given any space to such a dark television program about a high school chemistry teacher involved in illegal activities, the letters concluded. I’m still dumbfounded that some ACS members don’t want to acknowledge anything but the bright side of chemistry.

          Monday morning at the opening of the exposition marked the debut of the new, unified ACS Village Booth. Now all elements of ACS who have a stake in the meeting, from CAS and the Publications Division to Meetings & Scientific Advancement, Education, and Member Insurance are all together in one dramatic and impressive booth. At precisely

Massie (from left), Crawford, Jacobs, and Creech cut the ceremonial ribbon at the new unified ACS at the exposition in Anaheim

 10 a.m., ACS Executive Director Madeleine Jacobs, M&SA Division Director Denise Creech, CAS President Robert J. Massie, and Publications Division President Brian D. Crawford cut the ceremonial ribbon opening the booth.

          C&EN hosted its first webinar of 2011 at the Anaheim meeting. C&EN Deputy Editor-in-chief moderated. University of Toronto chemistry professor Andrei K. Yudin presented a lecture on “Aziridine Aldehydes as Reagents for Rapid & Chemoselective Synthesis of Complex Molecules.” More than 200 people tuned in for the webinar.

          That’s it for now.

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