American Chemical Society joins U.S. National Academy of Sciences in effort to support researchers forced to flee Ukraine

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2022 — With a $500,000 donation, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has joined the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in an effort to help researchers who are being forced to flee Ukraine because of Russia’s invasion. The donation will support the NAS’ Scientists and Engineers in Exile or Displaced (SEED) program, which is working to help scientists and engineers relocate and continue their work in Poland and other neighboring countries.

Under agreements with the Ukrainian and Polish academies of sciences, NAS support for researchers and their families includes providing the displaced researchers with grants and placements in appropriate research institutions for up to six months. The funding from ACS will be prioritized to assist Ukrainian chemical scientists to the extent possible.

Millions of Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the war, including an estimated 20,000 researchers. With many male family members still in Ukraine, the NAS effort is initially supporting primarily female scientists, but this may change as the situation evolves. Although Poland has been the principal destination for refugee scientists, many are also fleeing to Estonia, Lithuania and elsewhere. The NAS plans to help expand the program to include partnerships with other science academies.

In addition to providing immediate assistance to these researchers and their families, the SEED program aims to ensure that Ukrainian science will be better positioned to be restored after the war ends. Keeping the affected researchers engaged in their work and connected to the international science community allows the world to continue to benefit from their ideas and discoveries. 

“As our thoughts go out to all those impacted by this war, we appreciate the need to assist the scientists being displaced so that they can continue their work and their careers,” says Paul W. Jagodzinski, Ph.D., chair of the ACS Board of Directors. “Through NAS, we are proud to provide support for these skilled and talented people.”

“The world very much needs the contributions of these displaced researchers, and eventually, their work will also be essential to one day help rebuild Ukraine,” says NAS President Marcia McNutt, Ph.D. “We are thankful that the American Chemical Society is partnering with us in this important effort to provide safety, dignity and opportunities for international research collaboration for our Ukrainian colleagues, without triggering a brain drain from Eastern Europe.”

Recognizing that years of specialized training could be at risk for refugees and displaced individuals, the SEED program was established in 2021 to provide bridge opportunities that enable scientists and engineers to remain connected to the global scientific enterprise. The program initially focused on helping Afghan scholars fleeing the Taliban, successfully placing them in academic appointments at the University of Rwanda.

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Note: ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

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