Younger Chemists Committee

Serving the Needs of Early Career Chemists

ACS Presidents Column

Marinda Wu, Ph.D., 2013 ACS President

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 4:30 PM

If I were asked to offer just one piece of advice, I would share with you something I have done my entire life—“Turn challenges into opportunities!” Life is full of challenges. Many of them are unexpected and beyond our control. Having a positive attitude can make a huge difference in outcomes.

I truly believe this is a most exciting time to be a younger chemist. As I travel the world, I find that chemical societies everywhere want to support their younger chemists. You represent our future.

The world population passed seven billion in 2011 and is estimated to reach nine billion by 2040 based on current growth trends. Chemists must and will be an essential part of the team that helps to solve our global challenges of clean water, air, energy, food, medicines, and much more to improve the quality of life on this planet. Earth’s resources are not unlimited, but I am confident that your generation will tackle and help solve some of these world challenges—and also discover some new opportunities!

One specific opportunity for us all is helping to better educate the general public and policy makers about the value that we chemists bring to society. Doing so can enhance our profession via greater recognition, support and research funding—in turn, leading to more job opportunities. I once told a friend at Novartis that I found their TV commercial quite touching when they described a life saving medicine. The general public needs to be reminded that a chemist invented this wonderful medicine, like many others. Science in general and chemistry in particular are still under appreciated by non-scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

My latest ACS Comment in C&EN (September 2, 2013) is on “Time to Partner and Speak up for Science!” It was Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Science is my passion; politics, my duty!” I do hope more of you will do your part to get involved with advocacy and partnering to speak up for science.

Working together to contact our policy makers at local, state or national levels, we can make a difference in the economic and employment outlook for chemists and all Americans by advocating strongly to support science and technology. Visit for helpful tools on how to reach your legislators.

A Presidential Advocacy Training workshop at the national ACS meeting in Indianapolis on September 10, also cosponsored by YCC, can sharpen your skills and better prepare you to advocate for science with your legislators. I invite you to my Presidential Symposia on “Career Advancement Opportunities” on September 9 and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” on September 10. If you cannot make it, you can look for this helpful information online after the ACS meeting and eventually shared in an ACS Symposium book.

My Presidential theme—whether I am talking with legislators, students, or scientists from industry, academia, or government—has always been about how we can all work together and get more accomplished if we become “Partners for Progress and Prosperity!” I welcome your thoughts at Best wishes with all your future endeavors! 

Categories: ACS Presidents Column