Today marks the beginning of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), a year-long world celebration of chemistry and its contributions to improving the human condition. I’m really hoping that this celebration brings attention to the fact that chemicals are everywhere – WE are chemicals – and raises a level of public awareness to address chemophobia.
For me, of course, the IYC is a chance to celebrate the chemicals that occur naturally as the result of biochemical secondary metabolism of plants, fungi, bacteria, marine organisms, and other sources that have given us drugs that improve the length and quality of life.
The origin of the US chemical industry is centered on Philadelphia and extended from Wilmington, Delaware, up through New Jersey and southern New York state. Therefore, the City of Brotherly Love is an appropriate setting for the US launch of the IYC.
Held this morning at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, a panel discussion of noted scientists and chemical industry business leaders will be livestreamed – you just need to register here first for the webcast. My hope is that the discussion will not be just a rah-rah fest of the chemical industry but rather will discuss the challenges that face chemistry in the modern world – environmental impact, energy, food supply, or perhaps even a discussion of chemistry employment prospects (I know, I’m too idealistic.)
The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a also a fitting setting to launch this celebration – a remarkable museum and scholarly center that “fosters and understanding of chemistry’s impact on society.” My colleague, Suzanne Franks, has a superb post on her visit to the museum and provides and insightful discussion of how chemistry has historically was marketed “strongly and wrongly” to little boys – an interesting juxtaposition to today’s panel with three remarkable women out of the five (see below), including the CEO of one of the world’s most historic chemical companies.
And just another sidenote for those of you in the cancer chemotherapy field: the CHF is now led by cancer pharmacologist and former Haverford College president, Tom Tritton.
Here are the details from the press release:
U.S. Launches International Year of Chemistry on Feb. 1 in Philadelphia, Pa., with World-Renowned Chemistry Experts Discussing Global Issues
The United Nations has designated 2011 the “International Year of Chemistry (IYC)” –– a global celebration of chemistry and its contributions to the world around us. This worldwide initiative is being celebrated under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and features activities conducted by countries, such as the United States, that adhere to these organizations.
The United States launch of IYC 2011 is Feb. 1 in Philadelphia, Pa., where prominent leaders from industry and academia will gather to discuss solutions to increasing global demands for energy, safe food and water, and improving human health at a panel discussion entitled “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.”
This event is presented by the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in collaboration with the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the United States National Committee for IUPAC at the National Academy of Sciences.
Panelists include the following chemical engineering, science and business leaders:
- Andrew Liveris, President, CEO and Chairman, The Dow Chemical Company
- Ellen Kullman, Chair and CEO, DuPont
- Janet Hering, Director, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
- Joshua S. Boger, former Chair and CEO, current board member, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
- Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland at College Park, and former Director, National Science Foundation
- Moderator: Dan Nocera, Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011
Panel Discussion begins at 10:00 a.m. EST, followed by a reception at Noon.
Chemical Heritage Foundation Building
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
The event also will stream live online at: http://tinyurl.com/IYCWebcast
Other IYC Events in Philadelphia in early February:
- Feb. 2, 7 p.m.: CHF will host a discussion of the book The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr.
- Feb. 3: Actor Jim Armstead will bring to life the chemist Percy Lavon Julian at The African American Museum of Philadelphia and at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
- Feb. 4, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Opening of “Elemental Matters: Artists Imagine Chemistry” at CHF. The artists will be on hand to discuss their chemistry-inspired works.
- Feb. 5, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: The Franklin Institute presents chemistry experiments for all ages, hosted by the American Chemical Society.
- Feb. 14, 6 p.m.: Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, will speak at “Science on Tap” at National Mechanics Bar & Restaurant, on Third Street, next to CHF.
Official Web site for more information about IYC: www.chemistry2011.org
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