Vol. 23, No.5
in Future IUPAC Activities
Dr. Edwin D. Becker
Secretary General's report from the IUPAC General Assembly in Brisbane,
This issue of Chemistry International includes a number of news
items from the General Assembly, along with
reports on the State of the Union and its financial
status. I would like to comment on some aspects of the reports presented
to the Council and to look at some trends in our future activities.
Restructuring of the Divisions
This year marks the conclusion of the transition period for converting
to a project-driven system. The reports by the Division Presidents and
Standing Committee Chairmen indicated that a large number of existing
projects are expected to be completed by the end of this year; they
were largely optimistic regarding the flexibility of the new system
and the opportunities to improve interdisciplinary activities. However,
there remain some concerns about the effect of termination of Commissions
at the end of the year.
Divisions are handling the new system in quite different ways. For
example, the Analytical Chemistry Division will replace its eight Commissions
with only one subcommittee (to manage the Solubility Data Series) and
will retain its one working party on quality assurance in analytical
laboratories. The Physical and Biophysical Chemistry Division will have
no subcommittees and will host the reconstituted Commission on Physicochemical
Symbols, Terminology, and Units. Both of these Divisions expect to rely
on IUPAC Fellows and on contacts with outside groups, including national
chemical societies, as sources of ideas for new projects.
On the other hand, the Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division
and the Chemistry and the Environment Division will retain a much more
extensive structure, with a large number of subcommittees in place of
their Commissions. In all cases, funds will be available primarily through
approved projects. The Macromolecular Division expects to continue about
30 projects as at present, but the Physical and Biophysical Chemistry
Division anticipates about 10 projects, with some being supported at
much higher levels than was possible in the past.
It will take several years to determine which models will ultimately
prove to be most successful.
Some Trends in IUPAC Activities
The final words of the President 's State of the Union message were
echoed in several presentations-What does the "customer" need, and why
should IUPAC undertake the activity? This emphasis will surely focus
our efforts on activities that are widely perceived to be important
and that require the unique perspective of IUPAC.
The Union is poised to expand its efforts in chemistry education in
ways that clearly complement activities by others, including national
chemical societies. The new Vice President, Prof. Leiv Sydnes, has been
active in chemistry education in Europe and in helping to develop plans
for IUPAC 's work in this area. We should soon see a reconstituted Committee
on Chemistry Education, with particular emphases on developing countries
and the public appreciation of chemistry.
The new Division of Systematic Nomenclature and Structure Representation
will provide the means for IUPAC to maintain leadership in development
of chemical nomenclature in the era of computer-based structures and
nomenclature. In a broader context, IUPAC will probably take the lead
in setting standards for CML (Chemical Markup Language), which seems
likely to become the preferred medium for web-based communication in
chemistry and for input into printed publications.
IUPAC is increasingly being recognized as an independent international
organization that can provide objective scientific advice on global
issues. We have begun an effort to advise the Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on scientific and technological advances
that may have an impact on the enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
More information will be forthcoming in the next two months.
The Union will be making more concerted efforts to expand its membership
base of National Adhering Organizations and Associate NAOs, with the
lead role being played by the newly established ad hoc Membership Development
Committee, chaired by Prof. Hitoshi Ohtaki.