FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 22, 2021
2021 Helen Free Award for Public Outreach and 2022 Grady-Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry go to Jennifer Maclachlan
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2021 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) has recognized member Jennifer L. Maclachlan as the recipient of both the 2021 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach and the 2022 James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public. The ACS Committee on Public Relations and Communications (CPRC) presents the public outreach award annually to an ACS member whose outstanding achievements have improved public recognition and appreciation for the field of chemistry. ACS awards the chemistry interpretation award annually to someone who has made noteworthy presentations to increase the public’s understanding of chemistry.
Maclachlan has been an active ACS member for 12 years and is the managing director at PID Analyzers LLC, a small, family-owned and -operated chemical instrument business in Sandwich, Massachusetts. In her home community of Cape Cod, she has distinguished herself by putting together many hands-on chemistry outreach events, demonstrating her strong networking, communication and team management skills.
“The future and advancement of chemistry rest with the youth of today. My goal from the start has been to open the eyes of our youngsters and their parents to the wonders of chemistry and its benefits to our lives,” Maclachlan says. “Through engagement with these young people, I hope that many will chose to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies to become our nation’s future innovators.”
In 2010, she organized the first Cape Cod Celebrates National Chemistry Week at a local YMCA. Assisted by her father Jack Driscoll, Ph.D., she engaged students in grades K-8 in chemistry-related hands-on activities. Encouraged and energized by this first public outreach effort, and working with colleagues from the Northeastern Section of ACS, Maclachlan put on dozens of events — to date, she has organized more than 30 science cafés. She has developed partnerships with many Southeastern Massachusetts STEM education stakeholders, and via those partnerships, she has shared her enthusiasm for chemistry with thousands of area youth and their parents and caregivers.
Maclachlan also has an active presence on social media, where she has established a strong personal brand and coaches others in doing the same. Her passion for career planning has made her a sought-after speaker at ACS meetings and by other organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Materials Research Society.
“Jennifer has untiring passions for both chemistry and outreach to the public,” says William F. Carroll Jr., Ph.D., a past president of ACS and a past chair of the ACS Board of Directors. “These passions, when combined with her outgoing personality, knack for social media and infectious enthusiasm, have resulted in the engagement and education of thousands of Cape Cod residents and beyond in learning about the magic of chemistry and how it improves their lives.”
Her service to ACS also includes chairing CPRC, the committee tasked with bringing chemistry to the public, sharing the excitement of science with non-scientists and helping other ACS units communicate effectively with their constituents. She currently serves as the co-chair of the Partnership Subcommittee for the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety and the public relations chair for the ACS Division of Small Chemical Businesses.
Beyond her ACS membership, Maclachlan is an active member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), where she serves as immediate past chair of the Teen Workplace Health and Safety Committee, which she founded. She also assists with AIHA grassroots government affairs activities.
Established in 1995, the Helen M. Free Award is a ChemLuminary Award that recognizes outstanding achievements in public outreach. Free, a former ACS president, initiated many programs and activities designed to improve public awareness of chemistry’s contributions to the quality of daily life. Free passed away this year on May 1, but her contributions to chemistry and public outreach will live on through the thousands of people whose lives she touched and the awardees who continue her work.
The chemistry interpretation award, named for ACS News Service managers James T. Grady and James H. Stack, was established in 1955 to recognize individuals who have increased public knowledge and understanding of the chemical sciences through the press, television, film, books, lectures and other media. “When getting information by traditional media is the exception rather than the rule,” Carroll says, “it is appropriate to expand the definition of reporter to individuals who have been outstanding at communicating the benefits of chemistry by social media.”
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Note: ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies.