The View from the Program Chair, Irv Levy, Fall 2015

It’s a beautiful summer day in New England as I compose this note in anticipation of the next national meeting. It will be a pleasure to see so many of you assemble in my neck of the woods as we come together for the 250th national meeting in Boston this August.

Your meeting co-chairs, Iona Black and Beatriz Rios-McKee, have been working for nearly year to assemble all of the details for this meeting. Veteran programmers Sally Mitchell and Kate Anderson organized our High School program. I hope that you’ll be able to join us in Boston and, please, take the time to personally thank Iona, Beatriz, Sally, and Kate for their work on your behalf.

There are a number of people behind the scenes who provide direct and indirect support for our programming at a national meeting. Many thanks to the ACS staff who are the ones who help us bring it all together. Special thanks are due to our ACS staff liaison, Wei Gao, our meeting planner, Beverly Johnson, and the Undergraduate Programs Office staff, led by Nicole DiFabio. As always Heather Johnson attends to a host of details that make the job of organizing a meeting so much more convenient. Many thanks are due to all the folks in the Division and ACS who work with our committee to produce a quality meeting.

Our meeting will be held in the Boston Convention and Exposition Center and we’re delighted to be on that “main stage” at the meeting. With this meeting, the Undergraduate Research Oral Papers symposium has officially become a standard symposium at all of the national meetings. This is the fourth consecutive meeting with that option for select undergraduates to present their work in an oral format and we anticipate it continuing at each national meeting moving forward.

In Boston we will host a State-of-the-Art symposium themed on toxicology for chemical educators. In recent years many highly interesting symposia have been organized in DivCHED around the principles of green chemistry, chemistry that is designed to be inherently safer for human health and the environment. As an extension, molecular safety – toxicology – will be the topic of discussion at this “Toxicology and Environmental Impact in the Chemistry Curriculum: Science and Strategies for Educators” symposium. We will host lectures from experts in the field and from those who are incorporating toxicology into their chemistry curricula. If you are interested to learn more about this topic you can drop in for a lecture or two or stay for the entire day-and-a-half symposium. I hope that many of you will come to all or part of this session. And don’t miss the complimentary lunch reception that will be held on Monday to continue the conversations! Kudos to Amy Cannon for organizing our first state-of-the-art symposium in a long time.

The High School Program will be unusual at the Boston meeting. In place of the traditional AM session/luncheon/PM session format we will host a morning session and luncheon, only. The high school teachers will then be encouraged to attend a special Presidential Symposium on 21st Century Chemical Education organized by George Bodner, Ingrid Montes, and Mary Kirchhoff. For precollege teachers who want to get extra content especially designed for their use, Polymer Ambassador Sherri Rukes, will once again provide a program for teachers on Monday night at the meeting. This was a very popular session at the spring meeting in Denver and will potentially become a standard element at our future meetings.

One year into the MAPS system (the successor to the much maligned PACS programming system) and there are still some kinks to be ironed out. I have to be honest in reporting that the implementation of the new system has not been as simple as we were hopeful to believe. The fact that meeting co-chairs have a hands-off method of interacting with the MAPS database – only through the ACS staff liaison – has caused a number of delays and frustrations.

ACS is listening and is actively pursuing modifications that will make the system more open to us in the future. With a large project like MAPS, every step seems to take too long to implement; however, that is simply the nature of rolling out new technology in a way that causes the least amount of confusion for users of a system that is currently deployed. Until those changes take effect, the ACS staff liaison is a critically important part of our team. In the process of developing the Boston meeting we worked with a succession of three different liaisons; this was difficult as continuity was never established. However, our current liaison, Wei Gao, has been working with us for a number of months and I hope that our relationship continues for a long time!

Any day now you will see the official Call For Papers for San Diego. Iona Black and Denyce Wicht have assembled a large group of sessions. It’s obviously clear that San Diego as a venue and “Computers in Chemistry” as a theme for the meeting has given us a record-breaking list of possible sessions.

The deadline for submission to San Diego is October 26.

We will host a state-of-the-art symposium in San Diego titled “Computers In Our Hands: The Essential Chemistry of Portable Electronic Devices”. Thanks go out to Patrick Daubenmire and his co-organizers, Brad Fahlman and Cathy Middlecamp, for bringing this to our division. For those of you who might have an idea for a state-of-the-art symposium for the future, let us know! There’s usually at least a year’s worth of planning that goes into these special sessions.

I always close these notes by reminding you that my goal as the chair of your Program Committee is to make it easy for you to say “Yes, I’ll volunteer” by providing any support you might need. I look forward to working with you in the future whether it be as a symposium organizer, a meeting co-chair, or a member of the program committee. We are here to produce national meetings that serve your needs.  Please do let us know what those needs are and do consider what role you might be able to play as a volunteer. Drop me a note (irv.levy@gordon.edu) with your ideas or say hello in Boston.  

Here’s to a wicked good meeting in Bean Town!

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