John Warner is a candidate for President of the American Chemical Society. The election will be in September-October of 2021. All people with an active ACS Membership before August will be able to vote.
Invention with Intention
John’s theme for his presidency will be Invention with Intention.
ACS Statement by John Warner, May 11, 2021:
Imagine an image of the super bowl, or maybe a Beyoncé concert, or a picture of times square. Imagine that every object, every “thing”, in that picture had a line drawn from it with the Patent numbers of the inventions that it is based on. Now, imagine you zoom in on those patent numbers and see the faces of chemistry inventors. And beside them, the faces of the chemists whose publications in journals the inventions were based on. What you would NOT see is a bunch of crazy white-haired old men in stained lab coats. You would see a little bit of everyone. By the numbers, the faces would not quantitatively look like our real population distribution. But we would all be there.
I don’t think people outside of chemistry truly understand this. That the toothpaste they use was invented by someone standing beside them at their kid’s soccer game. That a component in their cellphone was invented by someone two rows in front of them at church. That the diabetes drug their father takes was invented by someone they saw at the mall.
CHEMISTRY IS EVERYWHERE
But it goes mostly unseen. Sadly, society has come to view this invisibility of chemistry as something insidious, like a monster under our beds, lurking, waiting to hurt us.
Open up the newspaper, turn on the radio, look on the internet, you all know the stories. Carcinogens, Climate Change, Ocean Plastics. When chemistry is visible, it’s usually not good.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The theme of my presidency, if I am provided with the honor to serve, will be Invention with Intention. We have so much to celebrate at the American Chemical Society! Our members are doing amazing things! There are many things I dream of doing, but here are three main themes:
1. Broadening the chemistry community
We are at a crossroads. We desperately need to make our “portraits of inventors” image be more representative of our entire population. There is an urgency here. We need new eyes, new ideas, not only to underscore the things we might do, but sometimes suggest some things we shouldn’t.
2. Invention Education
Engineering has been doing a good job reaching into education. Robotics programs and engineering challenges seem to be quite popular. But these activities are mostly mechanical or based on software development. We need to do a better job getting the concept of chemistry, more front and center to show how the fundamentals of chemistry solve real world problems – and let people know just how exciting it can be.
I am not talking just about organic chemists working with physical chemists, or even chemists working with biologists… of course these are all super important. I am talking about shining the spotlight on chemists working with entrepreneurs, with marketers, with lawyers, with sales people, with politicians, with musicians, with athletes! There is beauty in diversity.
Invention with Intention requires that we continue to cultivate and celebrate the amazing things that the ACS is already well known for. But we have an opportunity to be more accessible to the non-chemistry community. Because at the end of the day, we do what we do – to serve them.
Thank you for letting me share my dreams with you.
Inspiring future chemists through sustainability and invention
John C. Warner with a summer REU student group at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry