The View from the Program Chair, Irv Levy, Spring 2014

As I compose this note for the CHED newsletter I am watching misty, cold rain ever so slowly melting huge piles of snow. I feel a good deal warmer as I check the weather in Dallas today – a stunningly lovely 77°. I do believe I want to turn my attention to Dallas for the rest of the morning!

Many thanks are due to Christine Jaworek-Lopes and Beatriz Rios-McKee who have assembled an impressive array of symposia for this meeting. Recent Conant-award recipient Roxie Allen has worked for over a year assembling the high school program for Sunday during the meeting. I hope that you’ll be able to join us in Dallas and, please, take the time to personally thank Christine, Beatriz, and Roxie for their work on your behalf. Once again we are hosting several sessions of Undergraduate Research Papers in our technical program. The number of students making these oral presentations is significantly up from our initial symposium last spring in New Orleans. Many thanks to Nicole Snyder for bring this lively component into our program.

Also, many thanks in advance go to Amy Cannon and Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry. They have generously organized a Green Chemistry Commitment Reception for Monday in Dallas. This reception is meant to be a time to allow educators who are implementing green chemistry at their institutions to share ideas and to encourage others who are interested to enhance green chemistry at their institutions to seek information from those who have already done so. The Green Chemistry Commitment Reception will take place from noon-1:00PM in the Cotton Bowl room at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

As always, 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: Robin Green, Brenda Philpot, Beverly Johnson, Vernar Beatty, Nikki Fisher and Nancy Bakowski are a great team and I very much enjoy working with them. 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.

The fall meeting in Indianapolis was a great success, thanks to the efforts of the co-chairs Julie Smist and Tyson Miller, and their organizers Laura Slocum, worked on this meeting as our High School Program organizer. Laura has been a faithful part of our high school program for a number of years and she organized an excellent program in Indianapolis, along with the assistance of her co-organizer Erica Adams. And, can I just say, Indianapolis was an outstanding host city for the meeting. I do hope that we’ll get back there in the not too distant future.

As is often the case, the rush is on for the fall meeting abstracts even through we haven’t made it to Dallas yet! Abstracts for our division are due no later than the Monday immediately after the national meeting, this time. The meeting co-chairs, Amy Cannon and Cathy Middlecamp have put together an outstanding set of sessions for San Francisco. We will be hosting a number of symposia that are directly in the theme of the meeting “Chemistry and Global Stewardship”.

One particular session at that meeting is very special. We are hosting an invited symposium called “Sustain-Mix: Sustainability Across the Divisions”. We have contacted the Program Chair from each technical division asking for a speaker to address ways that chemists within that division are engaged in sustainability-related pursuits. This will be of value to the educators in attendance as we will be equipped with current topics to share with students in our own classrooms. Please watch for that session in San Francisco and plan to come for all or part of the symposium. We’d love to pack the house as we share sustainability ideas with one another.

Owing to the popularity of the Undergraduate Research Papers combined with the popular destination of San Francisco we are also hosting this symposium in the fall meeting. Be sure to consider the possibility of sending your students to this session that, for many of us, will be during summer break between semesters.

Sometime in the early summer we will publish the Call For Papers for the Spring 2015 meeting in Denver. Now is a great time to contact the meeting co-chairs Wayne Jones and Andy Marsh with your idea for a symposium in Denver. I am delighted that Sally Mitchell has agreed to organize the high school program for both meetings in 2015.
Many thanks are due to Wayne and Andy for agreeing to be the brave souls who will work with you for our first national meeting with our new ScholarOne abstract submission system. Please be patient with them as we all get up and running with a system that promises to be quite a bit more useful than our current PACS.  

As I’ve mentioned in past newsletters, beyond meeting planning there are several items high on my agenda as chair of the Program Committee. They are, in a nutshell, a) venue selection for the national meeting, b) Internet connectivity in meeting rooms, and c) the overall volunteer experience in programming.

We have been located in the convention center or directly adjacent to it for a number of our recent meetings. We’re a little more distant in Dallas but still in the same general area – about a 15 minute walk to the convention center.  I will continue to work with ACS and others in the division to make the case that our program should be located in the convention center or in an adjacent hotel.

Once again, in Dallas, internet connectivity is an issue. Even though I remain firmly convinced that the venue should provide WiFi connectivity, it’s still not the case many places. Until the hotels and convention centers join us in the 21st century we will provide our own workarounds. I’m pleased that the division has a number of Verizon WiFi hotspots that can be used during meetings to provide internet connectivity in any room that has a cell phone signal. Organizers can work with their meeting co-chairs to be sure that they have one of the hotspots in their meeting room on an as-needed basis.

Our program in Dallas is technically not within the guidelines of what ACS refers to as “Even Programming”. In the Even Programming rules, we should be offering 3-4 sessions on Thursday morning. We all have experienced very small audiences in Thursday sessions and we have made the case that it would be much better to have one large and well-attended session on Thursday than several sparsely attended ones. I can not claim that we will be given this privilege going forward; however, we will continue to do whatever we can from the Program Committee’s perspective to insure that the Thursday sessions are not only high quality (as they always are) but also well-attended (as they often are not).

Remember that my goal as the chair of your Program Committee is to make it easy for you to so “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 ( with your ideas or say hello in Dallas!

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