ACS Philadelphia 2008: On the presidential campaign trail

At the general poster session the other night I was delighted to see the two candidates campaigning for the job everyone is talking about. No, not McCain and Obama, but the two candidates for the president-elect of the ACS. As the biggest scientific society in the world, this is a big job.

As I approached one of the candidates, Josef Michl, I noticed he was chattering to Bob Grubbs (see earlier post). Michl was very keen on sustainability. And this is a broad recurring theme of this meeting. Chemists realise the opportunities they have to help the planet. Of course, chemistry is the underpinning science to the technologies that are being investigated to replace fossil fuels. I can only imagine that in future this theme is going to engulf these meetings even more.

The other presidential-elect candidate had a very firm handshake and free colour-changing pencils. Another Joseph, from Purdue, Joseph Francisco told me about his plans to unite retired chemists and young, keen postdocs to create an ACS-centred bank of expertise. His focus was much more on the business side of chemistry, and in particular small businesses.

Two very different candidates with very different agendas. It will be interesting to see who wins. At the moment I wouldn’t like to call it, but the trend towards sustainability gives me the feeling that Michl might just steal it.