Executive Committee Looks at IUPAC's Role in the World

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Executive Committee Looks at IUPAC's Role in the World

IUPAC's Executive Committee (EC), which oversees the proper functioning of the Union, meets once a year to discuss a range of issues. At the EC meeting held 3-4 April 2004 in Bangalore, India, a number of "big-picture" issues were discussed. In the following report, Secretary General David StC. Black comments on some of these issues, which will be of general interest to the IUPAC community.

The EC comprises the IUPAC officers, namely the president, vice president, past president, secretary general, treasurer, and three elected members, currently Chunli Bai, Oleg Nefedov, and Ed Przybylowicz. IUPAC Executive Director John Jost acts as secretary of the EC. The meeting was hosted by our colleagues at the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore, and offered an opportunity to witness first hand the thriving chemical scene there.

by David StC. Black

It was felt that we should be emphasizing the role of IUPAC as an international, independent non-governmental organization.

Interaction with Industry

There was considerable discussion at the meeting about IUPAC's interaction with industry. It was felt that we should be emphasizing the role of IUPAC as an international, independent non-governmental organization. We are already addressing industrial issues through the Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) and the CHEMRAWN (CHEMical Research Applied to World Needs) conferences, and some innovative approaches are being prepared. There are indications that IUPAC projects can help industry considerably, whether by creating specific databases or by generating positive publicity. Clearly, industry is interested in the big chemical issues, and this is certainly consistent with IUPAC goals. For example, industry is concerned about non-tariff trade barriers, and it might be possible for IUPAC to play a role in mediation.

There was much discussion about the value of the Company Associates program, which appears not to be well understood, and is certainly not widely adopted. The scheme will be publicized more vigorously in terms of its value to National Adhering Organizations, to the companies themselves, and also to IUPAC. COCI is already working on this matter.

Union Advisory Committee Matters

Membership in the Union Advisory Committee (UAC) is almost complete, and the EC has identified several issues on which to seek advice. While members serve in a personal capacity, they would also need to communicate with their local chemical community. The first item for the UAC to consider is the project Chemistry’s Contributions to Humanity—A Feasibility Study, otherwise known as the “Value of Chemistry” project, which is being carried out by a task group led by Ed Przybylowicz. A great deal of information has been gathered for this project from publications, Web sites, special events, and other sources, and a Web site is being created. UAC members are being asked to review the accumulated material and consult chemical contacts within their respective countries to identify any additional sources of information (see project update, in print page 24).

The second item concerns a resolution arising from the Ottawa Council to investigate how to encourage young people to pursue careers in chemistry. This is particularly important for the future health of the chemical industry. The resolution can be paraphrased as follows: (i) to encourage and facilitate the coordination of the variety of initiatives to enhance chemical education at all levels, and to utilize younger chemists to promote the subject and its achievements; and (ii) to collaborate with industry, trade associations, learned societies, and academe to discuss how best to achieve these aims and, if considered appropriate, to solicit new financial resources to achieve them.

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IUPAC’s EC members in Bangalore, April 2004: front, from left: past president Pieter S. Steyn, president Leiv K. Sydnes, secretary general David StC. Black; rear, from left: Chunli Bai, Edwin P. Przybylowicz, vice president Bryan R. Henry, executive director John W. Jost, and Oleg M. Nefedov.

It was decided to survey UAC members about efforts in their own countries to promote careers in chemistry. As it is clear that national chemical societies and chemical interests in individual countries already have robust projects underway, the exchange of information and coordination of activities could be very useful. It was further noted that while fewer young people are pursuing chemistry in most, if not all, Western countries, this is not true in Asia. In Bangalore, EC members had first-hand experience of a country with strong interest from students in chemistry, and also a booming chemical industry. The work of the suggested “Propagation of Chemistry” task force and the “Value of Chemistry” task group is not entirely unrelated, and both groups of responses will be coordinated, and hopefully lead to a valuable project proposal.

One other issue for the UAC to consider is possible changes suggested by the Governance Structure Committee. These were discussed in Ottawa, and it was felt that more time was needed for their consideration. A timetable will be set in place to allow for full discussion and consequent resolutions.

IUPAC Poster Prizes

It is quite common for poster prizes to be awarded at conferences, and it is acknowledged that this is an excellent way to encourage young chemists. Some IUPAC poster prizes have been awarded in an ad hoc way at several conferences, but it was resolved at the EC meeting to develop a more general and widespread program of prizes. Conference organizers will be therefore asked to take advantage of this opportunity. The following guidelines were approved:

  • Prizes will be awarded at all IUPAC Congresses and Division-sponsored meetings where poster sessions are held.
  • Prizes will be awarded at national meetings if requested. Not more than one meeting per country a year should apply, and that meeting should be selected by the relevant NAO.
  • Except for IUPAC Congresses, normally there will be two, with a maximum of three, prizes awarded per conference.
  • Selection of prizewinners is in the control of the conference organizers.
  • Each prize will consist of a certificate signed by the IUPAC president, a copy of the Gold Book, and two years’ subscription to Chemistry International.

The minutes of the EC meeting are available online at , under Minutes of Meetings: Executive Committee.

Please address questions/comments to the Secretary General David StC. Black <d.black@unsw.edu.au>.


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