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Vol. 25 No. 2
March - April 2003

Edwin D. Becker
IUPAC Secretary General
1996-2003

Secretary General 's Column

I would like to use these pages of Chemistry International (CI) to comment on three matters that may be of interest to our readers: conferences, affiliates, and leadership. Recent developments and potential actions in these areas will have important ramifications for future IUPAC programs.

Conferences

Among many chemists, IUPAC is probably best known for the many conferences it sponsors, some planned and coordinated by our divisions and operational committees, but many initiated independently by groups throughout the world. Sponsorship by IUPAC attests to the quality of the scientific program and indicates the host country’s assurance that scientists from all countries may participate. A calendar and map distributed with the January issue of CI lists the conferences sponsored in 2003. Papers from many of these conferences are published in Pure and Applied Chemistry (PAC); in fact, about half of PAC consists of these papers.

IUPAC sponsorship does not mean that we automatically provide financial support, but we have had some programs to support conferences, including the series on "New Directions in Chemistry" and "Conferences in Developing and Economically Disadvantaged Countries."

An ad hoc Conference Policy Development Committee has recently taken a comprehensive look at all our conference policies. As a result of the committee’s findings, the Bureau has approved some changes in operations. Major changes are as follows:

  • The New Directions program will provide funds on a competitive basis to support one or more conferences each biennium in innovative fields (such as those already held on advanced materials), as proposed by divisions and standing committees.
  • The Developing Countries program will provide funds to support conferences in developing and economically disadvantaged countries that are either full or associate members of IUPAC. Divisions and committees will propose support for conferences based on their assessments that the conferences are innovative in subject matter or location, fit into IUPAC programs, and would benefit from modest financial support.
  • A new program will provide support for IUPAC Lecturers to give talks at conferences otherwise not supported by IUPAC in developing and economically disadvantaged countries. Divisions and committees will identify eminent scientists who are willing to participate in conferences and perhaps also present talks at universities in the host country.
  • Funds are available for these programs for 2003 and, if approved by Council, USD 65 000 will be budgeted for these programs for 2004—2005.
  • Policies and procedures for approving sponsorship of conferences will be revised to simplify the process while ensuring adequate review of applications.
  • The responsibilities of the official IUPAC representative to each sponsored conference will be modified to provide better integration with other IUPAC programs.
  • Policies for publication of lectures from sponsored conferences will be modified to provide more flexibility in the number of papers accepted from each conference and to ensure adequate refereeing of the papers. Under this system, PAC will now have a scientific editor who will work with individual conference editors to produce proceedings from conferences. I am pleased to report that Professor James Bull of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, has been appointed editor of PAC. He has served as special topics editor of PAC since 1998, a duty that will now be subsumed within his broader responsibilities. You will soon hear more from Professor Bull about his plans for PAC.

Affiliate Member Program

IUPAC’s "Members" are National Adhering Organizations (NAOs), but in 1983 the IUPAC Council initiated an Affiliate Member Program (AMP) to foster close relations with individual chemists throughout the world. For a number of years we have had about 5000 Affiliate Members–a substantial number, but small compared with the million or so chemists in the world. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the AMP, the Secretariat and I will be working with our NAOs and national chemical societies to increase the number of Affiliate Members and to strengthen the program.


As we increase the number of paid Affiliate Members, we will be able to provide additional sponsored memberships . . .


Most Affiliate Members join and pay dues through their chemical societies, but IUPAC provides free membership for over 500 chemists in developing countries. As we increase the number of paid Affiliate Members, we will be able to provide additional sponsored memberships and thus bring CI and other benefits to chemists for whom such communication often provides a scientific lifeline.

We are always happy to receive input and ideas from Affiliate Members and to discuss issues raised by affiliates in the pages of CI. In addition, I hope that all affiliates will subscribe to the free IUPAC e-News, an informal e-mail newsletter distributed bimonthly. To subscribe or update your e-mail address, go to <www.iupac.org> and click on "Reader’s Corner" and choose e-news from the menu.

Leadership of Divisions and Committees

The heart of IUPAC’s programs lies in our eight scientific divisions and three operational committees. The officers and members of the division and operational committees are responsible for developing new initiatives, approving and managing a wide variety of projects, and overseeing conferences and a broad range of other activities. We depend on having committee members who are well-qualified scientists, who are able and willing to devote time and effort to IUPAC, and who collectively represent the geographically diverse countries that comprise IUPAC.

We are now in the midst of a process to select these committee members and their officers for the next biennium. As the first step, I have this year for the first time made a formal request to all NAOs for suggested candidates for membership on various committees. A number of NAOs have provided many good suggestions to create an initial pool of names that will be augmented by our nominating committees and input from many individuals. As always, we welcome all suggestions about people, ideas, and projects that might help IUPAC contribute to the advancement of worldwide chemistry.

Edwin D. Becker <tbecker@nih.gov> has been secretary general since 1996 and has been a member of various IUPAC bodies for 30 years. He is presently a scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


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