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

As I write this note, the temperature is hovering near 0 °F and is headed down farther tonight, there are eight-foot icicles hanging from my roof and seven-foot snow banks in my yard. And here I am writing about the spring. How hopeful. There will, in fact, be a spring!

The 249th ACS national meeting in Denver is going to be a big one. Huge kudos are due to meeting co-chairs Wayne Jones and Andy Marsh. They have overseen the design of what has become one of our largest meetings in recent history. There will be a total of 1,835 papers including 414 oral presentations. That represents an increase of more than 20% over the number of oral presentations from our last two spring meetings. There will be many excellent speakers, award symposia, and 1,323 undergraduate research posters. All things considered, it is shaping up to be a memorable meeting.

While our meeting in Denver is not situated in the Colorado Convention Center (CCC), we are located a very short walk from the CCC at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel. All of our oral presentations are in the hotel’s IM Pei Tower Building; however, the poster sessions will be in the CCC (General Posters, Sunday evening, Hall C; Undergraduate Research Posters, Monday afternoon, Hall E).

I am happy to announce that Sally Mitchell, a past recipient of the James Bryant Conant Award in High School Teaching, has volunteered to organize the high school program in Denver as her first in a three-year stretch of six meetings. Sally’s enthusiasm and network in the community of high school educators will combine with her knowledge of programming at an ACS meeting to give us three years of continuity and useful programming for our high school teachers. In Denver we are also expanding offerings for high school teachers by adding a special workshop-style symposium on Monday night organized by our friend and “Polymer Ambassador” Sherri Rukes. Please feel free to drop in for a “stretch” on Monday night to see how to put some “bounce” into your curriculum.
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: Kelsey Danner, Britney Fredrick, Brenda Philpot, Beverly Johnson, Vernar Beatty, Nikki Fisher, Evelyn Ciers, Nicole Di Fabio, Terri Taylor, and Marta Gmurczyk 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.

There are a number of special events in Denver that might interest you:

  • Award symposia will be held on Sunday to honor high school educator, Jenelle Ball, Chico High School, California (James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching); on Monday to honor Vickie Williamson (ACS Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry) and Cathy Middlecamp (ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students in Chemistry); while Tuesday brings a symposium in honor of Dwaine Eubanks (George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education) and the ACS-CEI Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education.
  • Of very special importance is the General Papers session to be held on Tuesday evening (6:00-10:00 PM) in the Gold meeting room in the Sheraton. We are continually in search of ways to promote our General Papers.

And, speaking of General Papers – I fought the law but the law won. At least in part. As people who have organized a program for the national meeting are aware, ACS has a series of rules referred to as the “Even Programming Rules” which describe how a division must utilize sessions throughout the week when planning their symposia. The practical rationale for this is to minimize the number of rooms needed for meetings on peak days.

For this reason, a large division such as DivCHED is required to have programming on Thursday morning. For the last several meetings our program has received approval to schedule only one or two large sessions on Thursday rather than several smaller sessions. This is to increase the number of audience members who will attend the sessions. There has been no push back for these requests.
This spring we decided to be a bit more creative about ways to increase the audience of those Thursday sessions. Specifically, we requested permission to move two of our Thursday sessions to evening sessions – one on Tuesday evening and one on Wednesday evening. After dozens of notes back and forth, we finally received approval to move one session to an earlier evening but not both. This was frustrating since moving two sessions would did not change our number of rooms requested during peak days of the meeting.

As has been the practice of the division for quite a while, the Thursday sessions will be General Papers. In an attempt to assure the authors that their work is not considered less important than those in the themed symposia, we invited a number of Thursday session authors to consider also presenting a poster of their work for inclusion in Sci-Mix. I am pleased that a number of them have chosen to do so. We will continue this practice in future meetings.

Next stop – Boston. Abstracts are currently arriving for the August 2015 meeting in Boston. Please try to get your submissions in to the MAPS system well before the deadline of March 30. Beatriz Rios-McKee and Iona Black are meeting co-chairs for this meeting and they would love to see your submissions arrive before the last moment. So, please, submit early and often! We are looking forward to what you and your students will bring to Boston.

As a heads-up, I am delighted that Amy Cannon and a team of organizers are assembling a state-of-the-art symposium for Boston titled “Toxicology and Environmental Impact in the Chemistry Curriculum: Science and strategies for educators”. This is a perfect symposium for those of us who are interested to find ways to bring toxicology into our curriculum.

And, if long range thinking is your cup of tea, it’s not too early to begin pitching ideas for San Diego. Please send me your suggestions for symposia. While any ideas are fair game, we’re especially on the lookout for those that might dovetail with the society’s theme for San Diego, “Computers In Chemistry”.

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 Denver!

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