The annual Halloween Chemistry Magic Show at Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN) attracts
more than 200 children and adults from the greater Notre Dame community.
ACS & YOU
As the new Executive Director and CEO of the American Chemical Society, I am impressed by your
outstanding public outreach efforts.
Statistics from the 2014–2015 chapter
reports show that ACS student chapters
held nearly 10,000 outreach events
that reached more than 850,000 people
in your communities. This is quite an
Do you realize how vital your community outreach events are and why it’s
so important to continue them? Science
and Engineering Indicators 2014, published by the National Science Foundation (NSF) earlier this year, measured
the public’s attitude and understanding
of science and technology (http://nsf.
chapter-7/ c7h.htm). The report revealed
that while four out of five Americans say
they are interested in new scientific discoveries, less than half believe they have
an “excellent” or “good” understanding
of what scientists and engineers do at
Educating young students who will
grow up to make responsible decisions
can affect our way of life, including our
economy, health, and well-being. Unless
we have a scientifically literate population, today and in generations to come,
we cannot hope to compete on a global
scale. The scientific literacy problem is
too vast for any one organization or single scientific society to own and solve.
Even so, we, as ACS members, can play
an important role in helping to increase
scientific literacy among nonscientists.
I urge all chapters to plan public
outreach events during National Chem-
istry Week (NCW) and encourage all
student members to volunteer for these
events. This year, NCW will be held
October 18–24, and the theme will be
“Chemistry Colors Our World”. The week
will include a presidential proclamation
and a U.S. Senate resolution acknowl-
edging the importance of NCW.
It is also important that you continue
your outreach efforts after graduation,
whether you enter the workforce or go
on to graduate school. ACS local sections are a terrific way to get involved in
your communities, thanks to the active
engagement of many local sections in
activities such as Chemists Celebrate
Earth Day and Project SEED. Younger
Chemists Committees, which offer programming tailored to ACS members who
are early in their careers, are also active
in many local sections.
Your efforts can have great impacts —
teaching basic chemistry concepts to
children and adults; inspiring children,
particularly those who are under-rep-
resented minorities in STEM fields, to
take a more active interest in science; or
convincing someone in your community
to more strongly support science and
science education. Perhaps most impor-
tantly, you also put a human face on
chemistry as you go out into your com-
munity and interact with the public.
When I read about the wonderful
results of your outreach events and see
the enthusiasm of young people studying
chemistry, I am so optimistic about the
future of our science. Chemistry offers
solutions to the challenges facing our
planet, such as discovering new sources
of renewable energy and providing clean
drinking water and life-saving medica-
tions to the more than seven billion
people on Earth. Your contributions as
chemists help the ACS fulfill its mission
of “Improving people’s lives through the
transforming power of chemistry.”
Thank you for all you have done and
will continue to do this academic year.
Thomas M. Connelly, Jr., is the
Executive Director and CEO of
the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Connelly retired from
DuPont in December 2014,
where he was Executive Vice
President, Chief Innovation Officer, and a mem-
ber of the company’s Office of the Chief Execu-
tive. At DuPont, Dr. Connelly led businesses and
R&D organizations, while based in the U.S.,
Europe, and Asia.
Why Is Chapter
BY THOMAS M. CONNELLY, JR.