Founded in 1876, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is today the world’s largest scientific society with more than 163,000 members and is one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. A nonprofit organization, ACS was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1937 to advance chemistry in all its branches, promote scientific research and inquiry, and foster public welfare and education. ACS members work in industry, universities and colleges, government agencies and laboratories, and in non-governmental organizations.
ACS is at the forefront of the evolving worldwide chemical enterprise. We enable chemists, chemical engineers and related chemical professionals to address looming global challenges and improve people’s lives. To this end, we are a global leader in providing chemical information.
The ACS Publications Division publishes more than 37,000 research papers annually in 41 world-class scientific journals. With the introduction of the ACS Journal Archives in 2002, we provide searchable access to more than 450,000 original chemistry articles dating back to 1879. In 2009, the Publications Division introduced the ACS Symposium Series Online and the ACS Symposium Series Archives. In 2011 ACS Publications and Membership and Scientific Advancement Divisions introduced new programs that expand ACS member access to more than one million articles and book chapters from the most trusted, most cited, most read publications in the chemical and related sciences.
ACS operates the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), which provides the most comprehensive digital databases of disclosed research in chemistry and related sciences. Since 1907, CAS has covered chemistry in the broadest sense, including disciplines with no current commercial value, to ensure the most complete historical record of disclosed chemistry. Further, CAS offers discounts to degree-granting institutions to ensure that non-commercial researchers can benefit from the largest resource of disclosed chemical research.
Every year, ACS awards millions of dollars in grants for basic research in petroleum and related fields through the Petroleum Research Fund (PRF). Twenty-five researchers, who were recipients of these grants and were originators of transforming scientific work, later went on to become Nobel Laureates.
ACS is also home to The ACS Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI). The institute works with industry, academia, government and nongovernmental organizations to educate and implement green chemistry processes throughout the world. ACS GCI hosts a highly regarded annual Green Chemistry & Engineering conference in Washington, D.C. and offers workshops for high school teachers and graduate students that foster collaborations leading to better, cleaner and greener ways of producing the products we use every day.
From ACS’s beginning, education has been etched into our core values. Today, ACS remains committed to educating our future innovators and fostering greater scientific literacy among the public.
ACS ChemClubs are a great example of this kind of outreach. The program provides high school students with a unique opportunity to experience chemistry beyond the classroom. There are more than 400 ChemClubs across the United States where students participate in after-school activities, get involved in community building and learn about chemistry careers.
Once they’re in college, many of these young chemists join ACS student chapters. There are more than 1,000 ACS student chapters throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Student chapter members actively promote our science in their communities and reach out to elementary and high school students sharing their knowledge and passion for chemistry. Participation in ACS student chapters helps to prepare undergraduates for their careers and future service to society.
In addition, ACS supports two other vital initiatives that are changing the face of chemistry in ways that will ensure the vitality of our science for years to come.
Project SEED offers high school students the chance to work in labs with volunteer scientists during the summer. They learn new skills and build confidence. In the past 40 years, Project SEED has offered this rare opportunity to nearly 9,000 students. In 2010 alone, the program placed 444 economically disadvantaged high school students in more than 150 research laboratories under the supervision of more than 420 volunteer scientist mentors.
The ACS Scholars Program helps gifted students who are under-represented in the chemical sciences achieve their dreams of degrees and careers in a broad range of chemical fields. Since 1995, nearly 2,400 college undergraduates have participated in this program. To date, more than 1,144 students receiving scholarships have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a chemical science, 100 have gone on to obtain a Ph.D. in the chemical sciences and 37 percent have entered the chemical science workforce. They are employed by numerous corporations, government agencies, colleges and universities.
Together, Project SEED and ACS Scholars are helping to create a more equitable and scientifically literate society.
ACS-Hach Programs are endowed by the Hach Scientific Foundation to promote science education through grants and scholarships. They include: the Land Grant Scholarship Program for undergraduate chemistry majors seeking a high school teaching career; the Second Career Teacher Scholarship Program for career chemists to become teachers; and the High School Chemistry Grant Program to support high school chemistry teachers in improving the teaching and learning of chemistry in their classrooms.
The chemistry enterprise is one of America’s largest industries, producing nearly one-fifth of the world’s chemicals. In all, the enterprise employs about 785,000 Americans and generates an additional 5.5 jobs in other sectors of the economy.
To ensure the future of this vital contributor to the U.S. economy, the ACS assembled a task force to examine how the Society can help this country’s chemical enterprise remain on the cutting edge of our science. The result was Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs, a report that describes how the chemical enterprise can capitalize on scientific innovations to stimulate economic growth and create new science-based jobs here in the United States.
The ACS is also committed to helping chemists showcase their talents and connect with potential employers through onsite and online career fairs and workshops, leadership training, career webinars and continuing education opportunities. ACS hosts virtual career fairs providing real-time interviewing, networking and webinars. These events have attracted more than 2,600 attendees from 40 countries looking for opportunities to contribute to the transformation of our world in the 21st century.
The Society also plays a leadership role in educating and communicating with public policy makers about the importance of chemistry in our lives. This includes identifying new solutions to global challenges, improving public health, protecting the environment, and contributing to the economy. ACS has a wide array of public policy priorities, which are developed by members and approved by the Board of Directors.
For instance, since 1995, ACS has operated the Science & the Congress Project. With more than 160 briefings to date, this project provides opportunities for Members of the Congress and their staffs, and the wider science policy community, to gain a greater knowledge of the science involved in numerous public policy issues.
In addition, ACS reaches out to the general public in many ways to increase appreciation of the role chemistry plays in our everyday lives.
Individual ACS members are active in their communities, speaking simply to friends, neighbors and civic leaders about science and emphasizing its vital role in daily life. Our 187 Local Sections sponsor demonstrations and other events in conjunction with Earth Day and National Chemistry Week (NCW). For more than 20 years, NCW has helped focus attention on science and an appreciation of the transforming power of chemistry to improve people’s lives. In that time, more than 1.5 million people have attended NCW events sponsored by ACS Local Sections. In 2009, ACS members, as part of their NCW outreach efforts, distributed more than 12,000 copies of The Merck Index to high schools nationwide. This essential encyclopedia of chemistry includes nearly 18,000 of the more commonly used and studied substances on our planet, and is considered an invaluable resource by students, teachers and other chemistry professionals.
In 2011, ACS is encouraging its members, teachers and students to participate in what may be the world’s largest chemistry experiment in history. This experiment, Water: A Chemical Solution, will help celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011), as designated by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), together with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). In addition to the global water experiment, ACS is participating in and sponsoring a wide range of science conferences, school projects, and community events in celebration of IYC 2011. For more information and activities, visit www.acs.org/iyc2011 and www.chemistry2011.org.
In June 2012, ACS will host the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). More than 70 countries will send four-member teams of high school students to participate in a series of exams, laboratory work and scientific and cultural excursions based at the University of Maryland, College Park, near Washington, D.C. Competition will involve several areas of our science, including biochemistry, analytical chemistry and spectroscopy. Students chosen to participate in IChO compete at the highest levels and establish networks that go beyond borders and cultures.
Together, these many activities and initiatives keep ACS at the forefront of science education, advocacy and innovation, and help us fulfill our vision of “improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.”