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ACS – The Academics’ Chemical Society September 3, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

The American Chemical Society has never offered too much for people working in industry or government. I’ve never had any negative feelings about what the ACS does for students. They are in academia, but not as the participants who make it the way it is. The ACS has had continuing efforts to try to broaden its basic structure, to be more inclusive of those not being research professors in research-oriented departments at universities (schools offering advanced degrees in chemistry). In fact, much of the ACS’s core values are gear wholely towards professors at the “top level” research universities.

Just look at the ACS awards. At least three-quarters are for doing academic-style research in a variety of fields. On paper, the guidelines seem to be open to those outside of academia, just the few winners who are not professors are chemists doing analogous research at government research labs (like the National Institues for Health or the Centers for Disease Control) or for private research institutes (the Howard Hughes one, the Mayo Clinic, et catera. Rarely are people in industry awarded except for those small handful of awards designated as industrial (and getting nowhere near the publicity from ACS).

Now the ACS has started a fellows program. Lo and behold, the vast majority of choices were professors! Big surprise, huh? The ACS has only one paradigm for success….the research academic one. Go through a series of universities until you reach an MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Harvord, or such; put out lots of students who follow that same path, and publish a lot of peer-review articles.

The industrial success markers of patents or products with an impact get little weight. An industrial chemist cannot publish hundreds and hundreds of papers from his or her research group. Getting one a year might be possible. Collaborating on others work is another route, but the academics’ model denigrates research and publications of this sort. You have to be first author or it must come from your group to count.



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