Gathering Momentum Test
2022 was a very good year for the American Chemical Society (ACS). There was a return to normalcy as the COVID-19 pandemic abated, although we faced some unexpected challenges in that transition. Together, the staff and volunteers kept ACS focused and moving forward so we could build on recent years’ successes.
Despite bear markets and rising interest rates, the Society maintained its strong financial performance in 2022. That enabled us to increase our investment in programs, products and services to support our members, advance education, and enhance outreach and advocacy. And ACS’ strong finances helped us launch the four strategic initiatives announced at year-end 2021:
- Advancing the campaign for a sustainable future (to address challenges outlined in the U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Goals): As part of this effort, ACS established the Office of Sustainable Development, hosted a summit on chemistry’s role in reducing hunger and food insecurity, and developed a program to fund research on green and sustainable chemistry.
- Enhancing the accessibility of research data: While ACS Publications continued its work to support open access to manuscripts, it also laid the groundwork to improve access to research data.
- Extending CAS’ presence into the life sciences: To help medicinal chemists and molecular biologists speed up drug discovery, CAS rolled out information on biological sequences and bioactivity to customers in late 2022.
- Fostering a skilled technical workforce: This initiative is intended to help recruit and prepare a diverse group of students and potential employees to fulfill workforce needs in the chemical sciences, particularly for people with an associate’s degree. In 2022, ACS created an awareness campaign to seek partners and disseminate information about this endeavor.
ACS encountered its own workforce issues last year, facing the same challenges as other organizations in recruiting, hiring, training and developing employees in a hybrid work environment. By May 2022, staff based in Washington, DC and Columbus, Ohio, were expected to work from the office three of the five days per week.
We also saw the return of robust in-person participation at the spring and fall ACS meetings, which were held in San Diego and Chicago, respectively. People enjoyed coming together again, which was wonderful to see. COVID-19 was still something to be aware of and to monitor from a safety standpoint, but it was no longer a reason to cancel events or to deliver them in a fully virtual mode.
The pandemic’s effect on ACS journals also subsided, with submissions rebounding late in the year as authors returned to the lab and reported their findings. ACS journals continued their growth in published output, usage and citations.
CAS Insights went live in 2022. Drawing on the division’s data collection and scientific expertise, this content hub aims to speed progress by highlighting emerging trends, unseen connections, new applications and future opportunities across science and technology.
The inaugural LEADS (Lasting Encounters between Aspiring and Distinguished Scientists) Conference took place in Washington, D.C., with the goal of preparing high-potential students and young professionals for impactful careers in the chemistry enterprise.
The Society enhanced its learning offerings by adding the Center for Entrepreneurship Education to the ACS Institute, an online learning portal; developing tools to help chemistry students returning from remote instruction to acquire hands-on laboratory skills; creating a new course on storing, organizing and disposing of chemicals in educational settings; and launching an online workshop to train people interested in advocating for climate change action. On the legislative front, the CHIPS and Science Act, a key priority for ACS, was signed by President Joe Biden in 2022. The act invests in science and technology and the workforce of the future.
A number of ACS programs benefited from generous donations in 2022. For example, thanks to a bequest from a 68-year member, future winners of the Priestley Medal, the Society’s highest honor, will receive research grants beginning in 2025.
The Society implemented several changes to make its website, programs and services easier to use and access. These improvements included a single e-commerce platform for the ACS Institute, new software that automated some of the processes for purchasing and accounts payable, technology to enable in-person as well as virtual participation in the first-ever hybrid ACS Council meeting, a new and more informative committee preference form that features a skills assessment tool, and a user-friendly online application for new and renewing members.
ACS introduced a new membership model in 2022, offering a tiered structure for the first time in its history. The membership model presents a choice of benefit packages at three different price points. The goal is to provide more opportunities for people to connect with ACS based on where they are in their careers and their lives.
The connection between ACS and its members can only be strengthened by addressing issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and respect (DEIR). Among other actions related to these core values, the Society launched a new course and toolkit to help ACS journal editors avoid bias in the peer review process and established a panel of outside experts to advise on DEIR issues and challenges in the chemistry enterprise and in ACS itself. The award-winning inclusivity style guide was also updated. In addition, Chemical & Engineering News won a Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Award for Series of Articles for coverage of DEI in chemistry.
More details about these activities and many others can be found online in the “2022 Highlights of ACS Achievements.”
In closing, we thank the membership as a whole and the volunteers in particular. ACS could not function without the thousands of incredibly dedicated members who run our activities in the U.S. and beyond, including National Chemistry Week and Chemists Celebrate Earth Week. We are grateful for your commitment and enthusiasm and all that you accomplished through some really challenging times, in partnership with the ACS Board and staff. The momentum we built together in 2022 will enable ACS to make even greater progress this year.
Note: At year-end 2022, Thomas Connelly Jr. retired as ACS CEO after nearly eight years in the role. ACS’ treasurer and chief financial officer, Albert G. Horvath, succeeded Connelly as CEO on Jan. 1, 2023.