ACS National Reports
REPORT FROM THE ACS NATIONAL MEETING
Anaheim, CA, March 26-30, 2011
Highlights from the Anaheim meeting
We apparently brought some of our March, chilly Bay area weather with us to Anaheim, as the first few days of the Spring ACS National meeting were a bit on the cool and damp side, but there did not seem to be too many complaints from attendees from the East Coast, as even that weather provided a respite from the brutal winter weather they have been experiencing this year, and to which they were about to return. Although National ACS meetings are scheduled in cities at times when the needed numbers of hotel rooms are available, the ACS sometimes finds itself sharing convention areas with other groups, and this meeting’s overlap with the National High School Cheerleaders competition, and the NCAA Southwest Regional basketball finals was an interesting juxtaposition and led to occasionally noisier hotel hallways in the evening than normal for the initial weekend of the meeting, as you might imagine.
For California local section members, the foremost meeting highlight was saved until Wednesday at the Council meeting when one of our very own members, Dr. Marinda Wu, a current member of the ACS Board of Directors, was selected by Council from a slate of four nominees as one of the two candidates for President Elect of the ACS for 2012. Congratulate Marinda when you see her. (The other candidate is Dennis Chamot, from the Chemical Society of Washington Section and the National Research Council.)
The overall theme of the Anaheim meeting was “Chemistry of Natural Resources.” There were over 185 sessions across the various ACS Divisions, Committees, and plenary events at the meeting related to this theme, including a Sunday afternoon plenary session that featured a talk by Nobel Laureate, Harry Kroto on “Carbon in Nano and Outer Space.” Presidential events covered “Hollywood Chemistry” and “International Collaboration in the Chemical Sciences: Best Practices.” The Kavli Foundation has joined with the ACS to sponsor keynote presentations on Innovations in Chemistry at National meetings through 2013, and the inaugural presentation, entitled “Bioinspired Synthesis of Complex Molecular Systems,” was made by Dr. Virgil Percec of the University of Pennsylvania on Monday evening, March 28th. “Sustainability” has become an ongoing meeting topic, and there were several symposia related to this topic, especially as it applies to water. A new probationary division, the Division of Catalysis Science and Technology was launched and held its first programming. As always, this was a very full meeting, with many interesting, yet conflicting events that provided a scheduling challenge, especially considering how spread out the hotel venues are in Anaheim.
Abstracts of the papers and posters presented at the meeting are still archived at www.acs.org and many of the plenary and symposium presentations were recorded and will be available with sequenced slides on the website in the near future. Meeting attendees should check at www.acs.org/meetingcontent. Attendees will be able to access this content from April 18 to May 2, with the content open for public access afterward.
Data from the ACS Career Fair at the Anaheim meeting continues to reflect a challenging employment situation for chemistry related careers. Comparing numbers reported by the Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs (CEPA) since the Fall 2008 meeting in Philadelphia, the Spring 2009 meeting in Salt Lake City, the Fall 2009 DC meeting, the Spring 2010 SF meeting, the Fall 2010 Boston meeting, and the latest Spring Anaheim meeting, the key indicators respectively are: Employers (80, 32, 38, 40, 68, 39), Positions (488, 176, 309, 116, 484, 182), and Job seekers (1024, 504, 787, 1018, 1066, 795). If you do the math, this means for every position available there were 2.1, 2.8, 2.5, 8.7, 2.2 and 4.3 applicants respectively over these meetings, a considerable change if you have the historical perspective of harkening back to the 1960’s when there were about four positions available for each applicant. It was noted that the unemployment rate for chemists increased from 2008 to 2009 and reached its highest recorded level, with unemployment at 15% for B.S. chemists, 18% for M.S. chemists, and 9% for Ph.D. chemists. The average time for an unemployed chemist to find a new full time position has risen from 6 months to 10.7 months. There was a 5% drop in B.S. starting salaries in the past year. The Career Services area continues to offer many career related workshops at National meetings, including resume reviews and mock interviews. A “virtual” career fair was held on-line in November with 2513 job seekers, 26 employers, and 196 positions available.
In the exhibition area, the ACS unveiled its new major exhibit booth that pulled together the wide range of ACS exhibitors such as Chemical Abstracts and Scifinder, Publications, Membership, Insurance, etc. all under one roof, complete with a presentation theatre area and bringing back the ACS Store of chemistry gifts, which had been discontinued for budgetary reasons last year. However, other than the new ACS booth, the number of exhibitors appeared to be down from last year and the totals were not disclosed during the Meetings and Expositions report to Council, as they usually are.
Report from the Council Meeting and other Society governance activities
California Local Section Councilors, our Board member, and our former ACS President were very active in Anaheim in representing the section at numerous governance functions including the Board and Chemistry and Public Affairs ( Marinda Wu) and ACS committees: Committee on Committees ( Bryan Balazs), Community Activities (Sheila Kanodia), Committee on Public Relations and Communication (Attila Pavlath), Local Section Activities (Lee Latimer – Chair), Membership Affairs (Mark Frishberg), and Project Seed (Elaine Yamaguchi). Councilor Alex Madonik, who is active with the Sustainability Engagement Event (SEE) Action Team, Councilor Paul Vartanian, who as a first time Councilor attended and spoke highly of the Saturday workshop for new Councilors, and Alternate Councilor and 2011 Section Chair-Elect, Jim Postma also attended.
The Anaheim Council meeting was a quiet and efficient one, without any controversial issues on the agenda. In addition to the normal Society officers and committee reports, the other items on the agenda were fairly routine, including approval of the dues for 2012 (increase of two dollars per dues escalator linked to CPI), confirming the dues allocation for Divisions, a name change in the charter for the Committee on Technician Affairs, a name change for the Northeast Oklahoma local section to the Northern Oklahoma section, and the formation of two new international chemical science chapters, in Shanghai and Thailand.
The Presidential Task force on Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise, appointed by past ACS President, Joseph Francisco, and led by George Whitesides of Harvard, reported back with several recommendations for the ACS: develop an organizational unit to assist entrepreneurs with affordable (free?) help; increase public awareness of the value and importance of early stage entrepreneurship; partner with academic and other relevant organizations to promote interest in entrepreneurial career paths and educational opportunities; and increase advocacy of policies at the federal and state level to improve the business environment.
The Local Section Activities Committee has funded 25 new innovative program grants totaling $46,500 at this meeting. The Bridging the Gap mini-grant program that was initiated to provide grants up to $250 each to help support local section events to engage student members in section activities was renewed for 2011 (deadline Dec. 1st). There is also a Bridging the Gap program to support local section IYC activities (California has received one) with a deadline of June 1st for applications and activities are to be completed in 2011. An exploratory expansion of the IYC grants was announced as a joint effort of the Local Section Activities (LSAC) and International Activities (IAC) committees to fund 20 additional grants to cover programs aimed at involving international members resident in the local sections in targeted local section activities, such as a poster sessions, during this International Year of Chemistry.
Councilors were encouraged to participate in the ACS sponsored Pennies for PUR Water, an IYC activity partnered with P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) program to collect donations to pay for water purification packets for use in areas of the world where there is a critical need for water purification to cut down on water-borne diseases (a 3.5 cent packet will safely purify 2.5 gallons of water). Collection containers for donations in bills and loose change were available at the end of the Council meeting, and similar collections at local section meetings would be an excellent way of supporting this activity throughout the year.
While overall ACS membership has grown to over 163,000, there continues to be volatility among our new members, who are more likely to drop their membership within their first five years. The swing in members joining and resigning has been considerable, with 18-25,000 new members coming in and 12-18,000 members resigning on a yearly basis. The Membership Office in conjunction with the Membership Affairs Committee is going to try to obtain better data on the distribution of the resigning members to determine whether the ACS can develop benefits or other approaches that will lower this turnover, especially since it is much more economical to retain a member than to recruit a new member.
Looking ahead to Denver – August 27-31, 2011
The overall meeting theme will be “Chemistry of Air, Space, and Water.”
For ACS members seeking employment, but not able to attend the next National meeting in Denver, ACS Career Services will hold a Virtual Career Fair on-line in conjunction with the Denver meeting on August 30 and 31. Look for more information at (www.acs.org/careers) and C&EN this summer.
Look for a symposium on “Social Media for Committees” in Denver.
News you might use
Career forums can be accessed through the career website the 2nd Thursday of each month, and a webinar of interest to industrial members within small businesses continues to be scheduled for the 4th Thursday of each month (http://acswebinars.org).
The Chemistry Ambassadors program launched by the Office of Public Affairs to assist ACS members who are interested in public outreach continues to pick up steam. Tools, tips, and other resources can be found at www.acs.org/chemistryambassadors. The former “Sparkle Workshops” are being brought back on a limited, invitation only basis to provide ACS local section public relations chairs training and resources in public relations (California section PR Chair, Lisa Aguirre has already attended one, and Lee Latimer will attend one at the end of April representing LSAC).
Efforts are now in high gear celebrating the United Nations designated International Year
of Chemistry in 2011. To keep tabs of the many ACS activities developed in
coordination with this year-long event, go to www.acs.org/iyc2011. The Committee on
Community Activities encourages members to support the quarterly outreach themes of
environment, energy, materials, and health. Look for experiments for students in the IYC Global Water Experiment at http://water.chemistry2011.org.
To view the “Chemistry Dance,” a line dance with lyrics and music written by chemistry students to celebrate IYC, and performed en-mass as a lead-in to the Sci-Mix poster session and reception in Anaheim and immortalized on YouTube, go to acs.org/iyc2011/chemistscandance.
The new ACS Speakers Service has enlisted 75 speakers and is looking for more. Recommended speakers should have interesting presentations and delivery, but do not have to be ACS members.
The ACS Member’s Network was upgraded last summer to make it more inclusive and effective by changing its enrollment approach from an opt-in to an opt-out system and putting all ACS members into the network to start. Please be aware that CAL Section Councilor and Chair, Bryan Balazs has set up a California Section group within this network. Over 190,000 people are now in the network.
The Committee on Environmental Improvement is working on a web presence for sustainability issues, which it plans to launch formally at the Denver ACS meeting. Interested members are invited to view the beta test site at www.acs.org/sustainabilitybeta and comments are invited.
Websites have now been set up to encourage ACS membership recruitment: www.acs.org/memberGetmember; for undergraduates (www.undergrad.ACS.org), graduate students (www.GradStudent.ACS.org), and potential international members (www.international.ACS.org), the latter three containing promotional video clips presented by members of the targeted audiences.
Information on NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs and grants can be obtained at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir.htm.
Final attendance figures at Anaheim were 14,059, which included 7343 regular registrations and 4685 students. The total was down from San Francisco and Boston last year, but quite respectable for a Spring meeting in Anaheim, especially in the current economic climate.
In Anaheim, 1144 applications for membership in the ACS were submitted.
Anniversaries were celebrated with receptions at the Anaheim meeting for the Committee on Professional Training (75th), and Undergraduate Programming at National ACS meetings (20th).
Eighty local sections now have Public Relations Chairs.
Submitted by Mark Frishberg, CAL-ACS Councilor, with input from our other
Councilors, Board Member, and past ACS-President
April 11, 2011