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American Chemical Society National Meeting Hosts Special Event On Science Policy

August 23, 2010

With laws, government regulations, and funding priorities continuing to exert a broad impact on science, a group of graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is holding a special symposium Aug. 23 during the American Chemical Society (ACS) 240th National Meeting and Exhibition here to familiarize future scientists with the unfamiliar realm of public policy.

“Public policy is the course of action that government agencies take in regard to a particular issue or set of issues,” explained Kathryn L. Beers, Ph.D. She is a chemist who directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Combinatorial Methods Center. “Society is facing a wide range of very difficult public policy issues today, from global climate change to global security. It is vitally important to have scientists involved in the decisions that shape policy on these issues. One goal of this symposium is to equip young scientists with the knowledge and tools to become effective participants in the great debates surrounding such issues.”

Beers discussed A Chemist in Public Service: From a Government Lab to the Executive Office and Back at the symposium entitled Chemistry and Policy: Solving Problems at the Interface held at the Boston Convention Center. The ACS Division of Chemical Education supported the event, which was among the special Presidential Events, sponsored by ACS President Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D. The ACS Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology organized, planned, and raised the necessary funds for the event.

“This is one of the most carefully planned, and most important symposia, I have seen at an ACS National Meeting,” said John M. Deutch Ph.D., Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This event will show how chemical education and training plays a tremendously important part in energy policy, for example. The more people with chemical training are involved with the policy-making process in such areas as biofuels and climate change, the better that policy will be for our country.” Deutch will present examples of how the lack of a well-expressed scientific view has weakened some U.S. policies. His topic is entitled Energy Technology Innovation.

Other members of the panel and their topics are:

    * George M. Whitesides, Ph.D., the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Chemistry
    * William Rees, Ph.D., principal associate director for Global Security, Los Alamos National Laboratory, LANL Contributions to Chemical Research, Public Policy and National Defense
    * Jay D. Keasling, Ph.D., Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, Engineering Microbial Metabolism for Production of the Anti-Malarial Drug Artemisinin
    * David Goldston, Ph.D., director of Government Affairs for the National Resources Defense Council, When Science and Politics Meet
    * Joan Berkowitz, Ph.D., Farkas Berkowitz & Company, Better Things for Better Living Through Chemistry
    * John Gavenonis, Ph.D., DuPont, Federal Public Policy Advocacy for Chemists
    * Janan M. Hayes, Ph.D., Director-at-Large, ACS Board of Directors, Scientist, Politician, Policy Maker: A Historical Perspective

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