FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Wed Feb 17 15:42:00 EST 2010

Scientific societies agree to promote advancement of Hispanics and Native Americans within chemistry enterprise

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2010 –– Two of the nation’s leading scientific societies jointly pledged today to seek the advancement of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American people in the chemical sciences. These ethnic groups have long been underrepresented in the chemical sciences and many in the scientific community believe their increased participation could help jumpstart American innovation and increase U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) agreed to mutually use their resources to communicate opportunities for professional development, career management, leadership training, and educational resources; and to highlight the accomplishments of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American chemists. Currently, Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans comprise about 16 percent of the U.S. population, but account for less than 3 percent of chemical professionals working in this country, according to ACS demographics.

“We take this step,” said ACS President Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D., “urged on by our shared belief that increasing the participation of underrepresented populations in the scientific community to a level that reflects their representation in the country’s population is a critical component in addressing the relatively stagnant U.S. scientific talent pool and sustaining U.S. competitiveness in a global economy. It is fortunate that our organizations share this vision.”

As part of the signed agreement, each Society will work to ensure the sustained presence of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists at national and regional meetings, either through special initiatives or programming. In addition, SACNAS and ACS will engage in collaborative public policy outreach efforts including joint Congressional visits and appearances at Congressional briefings.

“One of the most important initiatives of SACNAS is to develop collaborative partnerships with other organizations and scientific societies working toward a common goal to increase the diversity of scientists in our country,” said SACNAS President J.D. Garcia, Ph.D. “Our partnership with ACS is groundbreaking. When the largest scientific society in the world wants to join the SACNAS movement, we know we are headed in the right direction.”

This new collaborative alliance with SACNAS is one of many partnerships ACS has initiated in recent years with scientific organizations in the United States as well as Brazil, Japan, France and other countries worldwide.

“It is increasingly evident that science has become a global endeavor. It is therefore imperative that we transcend our local boundaries and collaborate more efficiently to maximize the limited resources at our disposal,” Dr. Francisco said. “I am certain that SACNAS is as eager as ACS to proceed with the implementation of this agreement.”

ACS has long supported the aspirations of underrepresented or disadvantaged high school and college students who are interested in pursuing careers in the chemical sciences:

  • The ACS Project SEED summer research program opens new doors for economically disadvantaged students to experience what it’s like to be a chemist. Students entering their junior or senior year in high school are given a rare chance to work alongside scientist-mentors on research projects in industrial, academic, and federal laboratories, discovering new career paths as they approach critical turning points in their lives. With guidance from mentors, they gain confidence, a solid sense of direction, and the ability to realize their own potential.
  • The ACS Scholars Program awards renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority students, including Hispanics and Native Americans, who want to enter the fields of chemistry or chemistry-related fields. Awards of up to $5,000 are given to qualified students based on academic standing, financial need, career objective, leadership skills, and involvement in school activities and community service.

For more information on these and other ACS scholarship opportunities, go to http://www.acs.org/scholarships.

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— Doug Dollemore