December 2001
Vol. 31, No. 12, p 1.
Chemist at Large

Table of Contents

Michael J. Block/Editor

W/O 1567-01

Opening art by Loel Barr
Loel Barr

For several months now, work order #1567-01 has been staring me in the face. That’s the number the Publishing and Creative Services department at ACS Publications assigned to the December 2001 issue of Chemical Innovation—the issue that has turned out to be the last one.

If you are a subscriber or a reader of the ACS news department in Chemical & Engineering News, you already know that CI is closing shop. In these times of slow economy and greater attention to the bottom line, it was almost inevitable. Even the redesign and renaming of this magazine 2 years ago couldn’t reverse the decline in subscriptions, especially the institutional subscriptions that are necessary to keep a magazine like this afloat. So we take our leave. In the spirit of Rodgers and Hammerstein, I can say that all of my memories are happy tonight.

Instead of trying to glorify the magazine with an issue full of memories and “best of” lists (the late founding editor Ben Luberoff did that in the last CHEMTECH in December 1999 better than we possibly could have), we decided to stuff it with the kind of content that we think you like best. Actually, a funny thing happened on the way to this issue. In the first half of this year, we were struggling to obtain articles—we weren’t getting the usually strong response from our invitations to potential writers. Then, about the time the decision was made to discontinue, but before that decision was made public, the pipeline was suddenly filled to overflowing. There must have been some subliminal message emanating from the seventh floor of ACS headquarters in Washington that told authors that this was their last chance to publish in CI.

The authors!
They frustrate us occasionally by not adhering to our style rules, but they have given us what you want: lessons on innovation. Whether our story is by a prominent researcher such as Josef Michl or about a new star on the horizon like Yigong Shi, you have been given the story behind the articles you encounter in the research journals. I’m particularly happy to have been associated with the freelance writers who have supplied us with articles on topics we wanted to present to you. Charles Schmidt, Debra Schwartz, Sandra Phinney, and Pauline Hamilton—all present in this issue—have each written for us at least twice.

Most of our regular contributors have been with us considerably longer than the freelancers. The majority of them have been the faithful suppliers of items for Heart Cut and Patent Watch, your favorite parts of CI. One of them, Dorit Noether, goes back to the early CHEMTECH days. David Birkett (The Last Word) and David Cooney (cartoons) have upheld our tradition of presenting the lighter side of our science.

The staff!
Pardon me if I choke up a little when I mention our staff. They have been simply marvelous to work with. Technical editors Nancy McGuire and Marc Fitzgerald, production editors Julia Belcher and Beth Mitchell, art directors Rhonda Saunders and Irv Davis, and program assistant Jerri Anderson have all been great friends as well as valuable colleagues. And special thanks to Mary Warner, director of Special Publications at ACS, for giving me the chance to learn a new profession and succeed in it.

The articles!
It’s always hazardous to pick a single outstanding article, but I have to go with the one by Jaan Pesti and co-authors in October 2000. I was particularly blown away by the candidness with which a large company like DuPont revealed some of the details of its drug development process. To me, it was a watershed event in CI’s mission to enhance our coverage of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. I do regret that we won’t be able to continue that.

My other regret is that we won’t be able to continue to stir the pot on global warming. Last May, we presented a Viewpoint article that took issue with prevailing opinion on that topic, and it elicited strong responses that we published last month and this. Another contrarian Viewpoint on the subject came out in November; it’s a shame that there won’t be a magazine left to print the expected rebuttals to that article.

Finally, much tribute was paid to Ben Luberoff in our March and April 2001 issues after he passed away earlier this year. I dedicate this issue to his memory and hope that someday the time will be right to launch another magazine like Chemical Innovation.

—MJB

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