WASHINGTON—Thomas R. Gilbert, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University, was elected director of District I of the Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. He will serve a three-year term that began Jan. 1, 2013. District I includes parts of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
“Helping members find jobs in the chemical sciences is a key role for ACS,” Gilbert says, “but so, too, is developing a workforce that can fill those jobs. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of many jobs in today’s chemical enterprise needs to be reflected in how chemical professionals are trained, especially at the graduate level.” Gilbert suggests that industrial internships and other interdisciplinary collaborations should be part of the pathway to a Ph.D. He also encourages development of professional science master’s degrees, which are interdisciplinary graduate degrees that prepare students for careers in targeted industries.
Gilbert stresses the need for ACS to continue seeking corporate and public funding for basic research, and he hopes to help the Society strengthen its Entrepreneurial Resources Center to support the launch of small chemical businesses and to help sustain them.
His third major focus is on expanding public outreach for chemistry, saying: “Only when the general public understands the process of science and appreciates its transformational power can they understand the many ways that advances in chemistry positively impact their lives.”
Gilbert graduated from Clarkson College of Technology with a B.S. in 1968 and earned his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971. He is an ACS Fellow and has been on the faculty of Northeastern since 1981, where he has received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the Outstanding Teacher of First-Year Engineering Students Award.
He and his wife Beth reside in Norfolk, Mass.