MPPG Communications & Outreach Subcommittee

The purpose of the Communications and Outreach Subcommittee is to explore options, develop a strategy, align with MPPG, implement, maintain tools, and execute timely and effective communication between MPPG, divisions, and programming committees. The communications and outreach subcommittees are accountable for recording and organizing decisions and policies made by MPPG along with the rationale for those decisions. This subcommittee has a significant role in establishing protocols for promoting thematic programming, both internal and external to ACS. This subcommittee should maintain key contact information such as division MPPG representatives and behind the scenes influencers, contacts with other scientific societies, etc. All posting to official MPPG archival records (website, MPPG group on ACS Network) should be administered through this subcommittee.

Tools the communications subcommittee should explore include:

MPPG Thematic Programming Subcommittee

The purpose of the MPPG Thematic Programming Sub-Committee (TPC) is to create proposals for themes for upcoming ACS national meetings. Proposals need to be presented with enough lead time before a national meeting to allow a theme to be chosen by MPPG Representatives, presented to the divisions for comment, and decided upon by MPPG Representatives. The final decision on the theme needs to be made 24 months prior to the national meeting.

The activities of the TPC will include:

  1. Soliciting themes from appropriate Society units including divisions, the Committee on Science, and other interested committees.
  2. Soliciting theme ideas from ACS members and others interested in chemistry by creating mechanisms for input.
  3. Meeting to consider thematic ideas collected relative to a particular meeting.
  4. Considering the characteristics of the national meeting site and what themes they might suggest (i.e. biotech in Boston, San Francisco or San Diego).
  5. Compiling the themes that have been successful in the past, themes that are strategic for the Society (the Strategic Plan is a resource here), and should periodically return to those themes as appropriate.
  6. Choosing a proposed theme or themes for upcoming meetings from the aforementioned input, and communicate to the MPPG Executive Committee and representatives.

The following is a rough timeline that can serve to guide the work of the subcommittee:

Due by
(months prior to meeting)


about 32 (Generally 2 national meetings prior to one at which final decision will be made)Send request to divisions, ComSci, others for ideas for theme for upcoming meetingTPC/ACS Staff
about 29Collate suggested theme input from divisions, ComSci, others and send to TPC membersACS Staff
about 28 (Generally at National Meeting prior to one at which final decision will be made)Decide on theme to recommend to Steering Committee for upcoming meetingTPC
25Deadline for Division Feedback on Theme(s)MPPG Steering Committee
24Final Decision on Theme MadeMPPG Steering Committee

Information for Theme Organizers


  • Selection of sub-themes and corresponding organizers
  • Planning of a plenary/showcase/Presidential event(s)
  • Coordination of divisional programming within the theme
  • Organizing special thematic symposia
  • Promotion of the theme


  • Knows the field of the theme well; is a respected member of that community
  • Has organized symposia at ACS in the past; is well acquainted with the ACS system of programming
  • Has the time, energy, and people skills to coordinate the programming with many divisions and other programming entities (COMSCI, PRES, etc.)

MPPG has laid out a more detailed list of theme organizer responsibilities below.

Detailed Responsibilities of Theme Organizers

The Divisional Activities Committee (DAC) of ACS has sponsored multidisciplinary, cross-divisional programming in specific theme areas at the national meetings for the past few years. The participation in the thematic programming has grown over this time, and the responsibility of choosing the theme and its organizer for a given meeting is now handled by the Multidisciplinary Program Planning Group (MPPG). This is made up of representatives from all ACS divisions and other programming entities (such as COMSCI), and this group has the oversight of the themes. In this document we list the main responsibilities of the theme organizer, to help in identifying candidates, as well as to give those candidates a better idea of what will be expected from them. 

The main objectives of sponsoring thematic programming are to enable more focused and more accessible programming on important, high-interest topics; to attract new and inactive members by highlighting areas of great interest; and to facilitate crossdivisional programming to serve all ACS members, not just division members. This can involve not only programming by one or more ACS division, but also symposia done jointly with other societies, when this makes sense. Once the theme topic and the main organizer have been chosen by MPPG, there are several responsibilities for the main organizer in the time before the meeting. These include:

  • Selection of sub-themes and corresponding organizers – Generally the themes will be so broad that it will be beneficial to divide it into two to four subdivisions, each of which can be overseen by an organizer. This not only takes some of the work-load from the main organizer, but gives her/him a group to work with to develop ideas and carry out the plans for the theme. MPPG may have some suggestions for the sub-themes, but the main organizer can choose to do this as it makes sense. 
  • Planning of a plenary/showcase/Presidential event – This is a part of the meeting that puts the focus on the theme, and generally features some wellknown speakers that will draw a good deal of attention (high-ranking government officials, Nobel laureates, industrial leaders, etc.). The format is open to whatever makes sense – this can be a standard set of talks in a symposium, a panel discussion, or perhaps something even more interactive with the attendees. The ideal might be an event that would set the stage for the rest of the meeting, or at least a large portion of it. In most of the themes that have been run in the past few years, the ACS President has chosen to support this and, more importantly, actively help to organize this. This helps to bring in the kind of participants who will attract a large audience, and it also provides some funding. It is also requires another level of coordination, however. This is one area where the committee of overall theme organizer plus the sub-theme organizers can work together to develop a highly attractive program.
  • Coordination of divisional programming within the theme – Part of the criteria for selecting the theme in the first place is that it be a topic that has interest to a broad range of chemists, so in general many of the technical divisions (as well as other programming units, such as COMSCI) will already have developed symposia in the theme area. One of the benefits of declaring a theme is to help these divisions to coordinate their programming to make the overall thematic programming more accessible to meeting attendees. For instance, they can schedule the divisional symposia so as to not occur at the same time as the plenary event. This would allow all of their members the opportunity to attend the plenary session. The theme organizer can also help divisions avoid scheduling against each other, especially when the symposia are closely related. Even better, given enough lead time, the theme organizer could facilitate joint programming by two or more divisions in a sub-theme area, thus making the programming richer and more attractive. Much of this work can be done in conjunction with ACS staff, who have a wealth of information about the programming and contacts in each division. The staff is also a great resource to assist the organizer in encouraging the divisions to find ways to locate thematic programming in a way that makes it as easy as possible for the members to get to as much of it as they can. In order to help with this programming, DAC has been providing funding of $30,000 per meeting, which can be used to strengthen these thematic symposia. This theme coordination can be large task, but it will help give substance to the theme focus. As much as possible, the organizer(s) should have an outline of the symposia ready about nine to twelve months previous to the meeting, in order to facilitate useful promotion of it to ACS members and others (see below). 
  • Organizing special thematic symposia – The overall theme organizer and the sub-theme organizers may decide that some topics under the theme are not covered by the divisions, but that they would still be very attractive for the meeting. If so, they can be involved in organizing these, or at least in finding people who can. These will need to be co-sponsored by some division, but the organizers can take the lead. Again, the funding from DAC can be used in this effort. 
  • Promotion of the theme – If all of the elements above can be planned well in advance of the meeting, this information can be used to promote the theme and the overall ACS meeting. One of the aims of choosing a meeting theme is to attract chemists and other scientists and engineers who work on that field but who do not generally attend ACS meetings (whether they are ACS members or not). Such people will need to hear about the theme and get an idea of what to expect at the meeting in the theme area some time (about two years) before the meeting occurs if we expect to attract them. The organizers can use the organs of ACS for promoting the theme (Chemical & Engineering News, the website, etc.), but other venues will also be useful to get the message to those not in ACS. Again, ACS staff will be invaluable in organizing this and in finding ways to get this done.

Given these responsibilities, there are several key requirements for the theme organizer. She/he should be someone who: 

  • knows the field of the theme well, and is a respected member of that community;
  • has organized symposia at ACS in the past and is well acquainted with the ACS system of programming; and 
  • has the time, energy, and people skills to coordinate the programming among many divisions and other programming entities (COMSCI, PRES, etc.) 

This gives a brief listing of what will be expected of a theme organizer. It will also be useful to consult with those who have played this role in the past, and MPPG can put the organizers in contact with these people. Past organizers have found it to be a worthwhile and beneficial exercise, and will be glad to share their experiences.

Timeline for Theme Organization

Time Relative to Meeting Date

36 months beforeMPPG selects theme
34 months beforeMPPG Chair communicates theme to divisions for approval
30 months beforeMPPG Executive Committee appoints overall theme organizer
24 months beforeOrganizer selects sub-themes, including organizers and communicates to divisions
20 months beforeDivisions tell organizer of their plans for theme
20 months beforeOrganizer contacts local section for meeting site to discuss possible non-programming events at meeting (e. g., with local schools, museums, news organizations)
18 months beforeOrganizer makes plans for plenary/showcase event in conjunction with President for year of theme (timing will depend on when President-elect is chosen)
18 months beforeOrganizer reports back to MPPG and divisions with first draft of structure of theme program – symposia from divisions, special thematic symposia, showcase event, other activities
16 months beforeOrganizer talks with ACS staff about special needs for theme at meeting site – venue for showcase/Presidential event, locations of theme symposia, connections with other societies, non-programming events (e. g., with local community)
14 months beforePresidential office and organizer finalize plans for showcase event and begin process to line up speakers and make other arrangements
12 months beforeOrganizer reports back to MPPG and divisions with final structure of theme program – symposia from divisions, special thematic symposia, showcase event, other activities
12 months beforeACS staff and organizer begin plans for promotion of theme through both internal (ACS) and external venues
8 months beforeOrganizer and subtheme organizers oversee submission of symposia abstracts and other information into MAPS
4 months beforeOrganizer and ACS staff finalize plans for locations of events and symposia at meeting site
At meetingOrganizer and ACS staff work on site to make sure thematic programming and other events proceed flawlessly
2 months afterOrganizer, coordinator, and divisions complete survey from ACS staff and MPPG on how well theme process worked and how to improve this in the future