How To Reach C&ENACS Membership Number


September 23, 2002
Volume 80, Number 38
CENEAR 80 38 p. 112
ISSN 0009-2347




I just saw a tv commercial for "natural chocolate" that contains "no chemicals." As a chocoholic, I couldn't imagine life without chocolate. But how many people know that a 1.5-oz bar of milk chocolate contains about 300 chemical compounds? Or that we have chemists to thank for that wonderful, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture?


We need to portray chemical scientists as they work today: not locked away alone in a lab, but as members of interdisciplinary teams exploring the frontiers of scientific knowledge and developing products and materials that better our lives.

Think what a difference it could make if those simple facts were more widely known!

In her July 22 ACS Comment in C&EN, President-Elect Elsa Reichmanis urged us to do more to help the public appreciate how chemistry--and chem-ists--improve our lives. One effective way we can educate the public is to rally the news media to our cause. Through the efforts of the society's Office of Communications, ACS reached a potential audience of nearly one-half billion people via media coverage in 2001. With your help, the society can reach an even bigger and broader audience. Here's how:

  • Reach out to young minds. Recent public opinion research conducted for the society shows how we can communicate the joys and benefits of a chemistry career to the Millennial Generation, those born after 1982. The good news is that they see scientists and themselves as the two groups causing the "most changes for the better in the future." The bad news is that they see scientists as geeks isolated from society. Only we can change the stereotype. We need to portray chemical scientists as they work today: not locked away alone in a lab, but as members of interdisciplinary teams exploring the frontiers of scientific knowledge and developing products and materials that better our lives. Help update our image by becoming involved with your local school board and working to improve the quality of the science and mathematics education that young minds receive.
  • Identify newsworthy research. Each year, the society's scientific meetings and peer-reviewed journals bring forward more than 30,000 new findings in chemistry and related sciences. At the Boston national meeting, we recognized six Newsmakers, ACS members who have helped the society convey these latest developments in chemistry to the general public via the news media.

    You can also help the ACS Office of Communications staff identify findings that may be relevant and newsworthy to the public: Alert the communications staff in advance when you or your colleagues are making news at upcoming regional or national meetings, in ACS journals, and in your local sections or divisions. Work with them to share research findings with reporters in interviews, news releases, and press conferences at major meetings. Let them know if you're willing to serve as an expert source for reporters on an ongoing basis. All you need to do is send an e-mail to Our professional staff will handle the details.
  • Volunteer as a public relations chair. Public relations chairs are vital to increasing local, regional, and even national media coverage of the society and chemistry. For example, seven print publications covered the Nashville local section's weeklong 2001 National Chemistry Week celebration on chemistry and art. In January 2002, the Cincinnati local section coordinated the appearance of Shirley Corriher--a world-renowned food expert who mixes chemistry and cooking--on "Good Morning Cincinnati," a program broadcast on the CBS affiliate WKRC-TV.

    Local section PR chairs help boost member visibility in local communities by promoting local section activities, regional meetings, scholarships for chemistry students, the International Chemistry Olympiad, and National Chemistry Week. Division PR chairs identify potential news from journals, national meetings, and other symposia. As a PR chair, you will be trained and supported by our ACS Office of Communications.
  • Nominate a National Historic Chemical Landmark. The society's National Historic Chemical Landmark program recognizes seminal achievements in chemical history and uses them as a way to engage the public in chemistry, from development of the plastic that made the Hula Hoop a household word to the large-scale production of penicillin during World War II. Help us identify remarkable examples of chemical history in your community by sending your suggestions to
  • Participate in National Chemistry Week. National Chemistry Week is perhaps the most successful ACS program for promoting a positive image for chemistry on a local level. Beginning this year, National Chemistry Week will be celebrated the fourth week of October and includes Mole Day, observed on Oct. 23. You can make it even more effective by getting involved.

YOU are indeed the catalyst that can improve the public image of chemistry. ACS has the resources in place. YOU can help us use them. Contact me at or our Office of Communications at, and we will help YOU spread the word. In the words of Mohandas Gandhi, "Be the change that YOU want to see in the world."


Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2002 American Chemical Society

Related Story

Chemistry Needs A New Image
[C&EN, July 22, 2002]

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