Exploring Careers in Chemistry: Madeleine Jacobs, American Chemical Society
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
American Chemical Society
Host: Kim Graves
Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs: Is Entrepreneurship in Your Future?
The chemistry enterprise in the United States is huge: more than 96% of all manufactured goods are touched by the business of chemistry, and the U.S. employs more than 800,000 people in industry alone. Furthermore, the chemical industry accounts for more than 10% of the U.S.'s total merchandise exports: $145 billion. Recently, however, thousands of research and development jobs have been lost in the U.S., raising questions among students and seasoned professionals alike about their future careers. Last year, the American Chemical Society released a report titled "Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs" (www.acs.org/CreatingJobs), the result of a year-long ACS presidential task force headed by noted serial entrepreneur and Harvard University professor George Whitesides. The task force was charged with documenting job losses in the United States, charting major innovations in chemistry that have opened up new industries and created jobs, and developing specific recommendations for ACS to help overcome barriers to innovation. The report focuses on entrepreneurship as a pathway to major job creation. In this talk, Madeleine Jacobs, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Chemical Society, will describe what it means to be an entrepreneur and what ACS is doing specifically to spur a wave of entrepreneurial activity in the chemical enterprise.
Madeleine Jacobs has been Executive Director and CEO of the American Chemical Society since 2004. The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society, with more than 164,000 members worldwide. Jacobs served for 10 years as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of ACS’s weekly newsmagazine, Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN), where she also worked early in her career (1969-72). She has also worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (1972-74), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (1974-79), and the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex, where she was chief science writer and director of the Office of Public Affairs (1979-93).
Jacobs received a B.S. in chemistry with honors and distinction from George Washington University in 1968. She completed a year of graduate study in organic chemistry at the University of Maryland in 1969. She received an honorary Doctor of Science from GWU in 2003. The citation on her honorary degree reads: "For her tireless efforts in elevating the status of women in the chemical professions, achieved by raising their visibility in Chemical & Engineering News; by her editorials, articles, and lectures on gender equity; and by being a role model, coach, and mentor to women at all stages of their careers."
Jacobs is a member of numerous boards, including the American Chemical Society, the Rosalind Franklin Society (dedicated to advancing careers of women in the sciences), the Société de Chemie Industrielle, and ASTRA (Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America). She is a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Women’s Leadership Forum,a member of the Board of Advisors of the Harpswell Foundation (dedicated to empowering women in developing nations), a general member of the Council on Competitiveness, and a member of the George Washington University National Council for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Jacobs is the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York Academy of Sciences Women’s History Month Award (2002), the ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences (2003), the American Crystallographic Association Public Service Award (2004), and the NOBCChE President’s Award (2010). She was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004.
Throughout her career, Jacobs has been focused on promoting science and technology careers to young women and girls and minorities at all educational levels to motivate them to do their very best and achieve their greatest potential. Another theme in her career is the importance of communicating science to general audiences. As Editor-in-Chief of Chemical & Engineering News, she had significant impact on the public perception of chemistry and on the profession of chemistry itself. Jacobs has received numerous writing awards and lectures frequently in the United States and abroad on trends in the chemistry enterprise, gender equity, minority representation, and communicating science.