WASHINGTON — The 21st century’s first major analysis of the education of chemists, whose work impacts medicine, drug discovery and virtually every other field of science, will be issued on Monday, December 10, 2012. Advancing Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences, a report to be released by the American Chemical Society (ACS), identifies major changes critical for ensuring that graduate education serves the needs and aspirations of students and society as a whole.
Although the report concluded that the state of graduate education in the chemical sciences is productive and healthy in many respects, it found that the education of doctoral-level scientists has not kept pace with major changes in the global economic, social, and political environment that have occurred since World War II, when the current system of graduate education took shape.
“We haven’t looked at the goals and the concepts for graduate education in chemistry in the U.S. in decades,” said Larry R. Faulkner, Ph.D., who chaired the ACS Presidential Commission on Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences. Faulkner is President Emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin and a former Professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Commission report, almost a year in the making, was released here at a press conference held by the ACS, the world's largest scientific society. “The time for a close look was long overdue,” said ACS President Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., who organized the Commission as one of his presidential initiatives. Shakhashiri is a chemistry professor who holds the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “We hope the Commission's work will create the best possible experience for future scientists upon whom society will depend so heavily to address the great global challenges facing us all. They include climate change, population growth, finite resources, malnutrition, spreading disease and water management.”
The Commission found that:
The report’s recommendations have been crafted to address fundamental concerns. First, employment opportunities for chemical scientists and engineers have changed and will continue to do so. Graduate programs must prepare Ph.D. candidates for the present and future marketplace of opportunity. Second, science has become much more collaborative; colleagues may be located next door or around the globe, which necessitates stronger communication skills across disciplinary and cultural lines. Third, as many nations worldwide have greatly strengthened their scientific capacity, by building universities and developing new businesses and markets, it is essential for the U.S. to revitalize its own capacity for the scientific enterprise by engaging more women and students from underrepresented populations to bring new talent and energy to the chemical enterprise.
Advancing Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences is available in advance on an embargoed basis to credentialed media by emailing Joan Coyle, email@example.com. Media are invited to attend a press conference, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Monday, December 10, 2012, in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. Refreshments served at 9:15 a.m.
On Monday, Dec. 10, to view the press conference virtually and download the report, visit: www.acs.org/gradcommissionwebcast. Reporters viewing online may submit questions by email to Joan Coyle, firstname.lastname@example.org. During the press conference Commission leaders will provide remarks with Q&A to follow.
NOTE TO MEDIA: The American Chemical Society has many educational resources and programs. They include college scholarships for minority and economically disadvantaged students, summer research opportunities for undergraduates, teacher training, and grants for high school chemistry teachers. These and other programs can be found at www.acs.org/education, www.acs.org/scholarships and www.acs.org/grants.