The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a learned society (professional association) based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. Founded in 1876 at New York University, the ACS currently has more than 161,000 members at all degree-levels and in all fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related fields.
The ACS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The ACS holds national meetings twice a year covering the complete field of chemistry. It also holds dozens of smaller conferences in specific fields. Its publications division produces several scholarly journals including the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The primary source of income of the ACS is the Chemical Abstracts Service and its publications. Chemical & Engineering News is the weekly news magazine published by the American Chemical Society and is sent to all members. The ACS membership is organized into 189 geographical Local Sections and 33 Technical Divisions.
The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.
The American Chemical Society had its origins in 35 chemists who met on 6 April 1876, at the University Building in the New York University (titled "University of the City of New York" at that time; its name was officially changed in 1896). Although at that time there was an American science society (American Association for the Advancement of Science), the growth of chemistry prompted those assembled, including William H. Nichols, under the direction of Professor Charles F. Chandler of the Columbia School of Mines, to found the American Chemical Society, which would focus more directly on theoretical and applied chemistry. The society, Chandler said, would “prove a powerful and healthy stimulus to original research, … would awaken and develop much talent now wasting in isolation, … [bring] members of the association into closer union, and ensure a better appreciation of our science and its students on the part of the general public.”
A formal vote for organization was taken, a constitution was adopted, and officers were selected. Chandler was an obvious choice as president since he had been instrumental in establishing the society. However, he felt that New York University Professor John William Draper had the reputation as a scientist to lead a national organization. At the age of 65, Draper was elected as the first president of the American Chemical Society and the headquarters was located in New York. Draper’s presidency was important more due to his name and reputation than his active participation in the society.
Past presidents of the ACS include noted chemists Glenn T. Seaborg (1976) and Linus Pauling (1949) and George C. Pimentel (1986), the inventor of the chemical laser.
The American Chemical Society sponsors the United States National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO), a contest used to select the four-member team that represents the United States at the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). The ACS Division of Chemical Education provides standardized tests for various subfields of chemistry. The two most commonly-used tests are the undergraduate-level tests for general and organic chemistry. Each of these tests consists of 70 multiple-choice questions, and gives students 120 minutes to complete the exam.
The American Chemical Society grants membership to undergraduates as student affiliates provided they can pay the $45 yearly dues. Any university may start its own chapter of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) and receive benefits of undergraduate participation in regional conferences and discounts on ACS publications.
The ACS also approves certified undergraduate programs in chemistry. A student who completes the required laboratory and course work--sometimes in excess of what a particular college may require for its Bachelor's degree--is considered by the Society to be well trained for professional work.
The ACS and Dialog engaged in suit-countersuit actions in the early 1990s over the use of scientific information.
The ACS has been criticized for opposing the creation of PubChem, which is an open access chemical compound database maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The ACS raised concerns that the publicly supported PubChem database appears to directly compete with their existing Chemical Abstracts Service. The ACS has a strong financial interest in the issue since the Chemical Abstracts Service generates a large percentage of the society's revenue. To advocate their position against the PubChem database, ACS has actively lobbied the US Congress. They are reported to have paid the lobbying firm Hicks Partners LLC at least $100,000 in 2005 to try to persuade congressional members, the NIH, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) against establishing a publicly funded database. They also were reported to have spent $180,000 to hire Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates to promote the 'use of [a] commercial database.' In a May 23, 2005, press release, the ACS stated:
The ACS believes strongly that the Federal Government should not seek to become a taxpayer supported publisher. By collecting, organizing, and disseminating small molecule information whose creation it has not funded and which duplicates CAS services, NIH has started ominously, down the path to unfettered scientific publishing...
Stance against open access
The journal Nature reported that ACS had hired a public relations firm, Dezenhall Resources, to try to halt the open access movement. Scientific American later reported that ACS had spent over $200,000 to hire Wexler & Walker Public Policy Association to lobby against open access.
An ACS lawsuit against Google, over Google Scholar, was settled out of court in 2006.
In 2004 when the current executive director of the ACS, Madeleine Jacobs, assumed her position it included the use of two Cadillac town cars and a chauffeur that her predecessor, John Crum, had acquired. Jacobs auctioned off the cars and let go of the chauffeur.
In 2007 Madeline Jacobs was reported to receive a salary of over $800,000 US per year. The salaries of the ACS executives (executive director, treasurer, and secretary) are decided by the Standing Committee on Executive Compensation which is composed of the "president, the immediate past president, the chair of the society committee on budget and finance, and two members of the society with demonstrated expertise in senior and executive staff compensation."
* Accounts of Chemical Research
* ACS style - the ACS citation standard.
* H. Skolnik & K. M. Reese (eds) 1976 A Century of Chemistry: The Role of Chemists and the American Chemical Society ACS, Washington, D.C.
1. ^ The American Chemical Society
* ACS website