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Chemistry International
Vol. 24, No. 1
January 2002


Structure of the U.S. Young Observer Program

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The program consists of the following discrete steps:

1. The decision by the U.S. NAO Committee for IUPAC, i.e. the U.S. National Committee for IUPAC-USNC under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, to have a Young Observer program was taken about 18 months prior to the upcoming General Assembly.

2. The program is intended to provide several things:

  • Selection of chemists or chemical engineers under 45 who were leaders in their field and showed an interest in establishing international connections and involvement in IUPAC .
  • Partial financial support to attend the General Assembly (USD 2000). (This figure varied for past General Assemblies, depending on support availability and the General Assembly location.) l Contact with appropriate IUPAC chairpersons to introduce the Young Observers and request permission to attend their meeting.
  • Identification of a mentor for the Young Observers who works with them before the General Assembly, sends them material relevant to their interests, and generally meets with the Young Observers several times during the General Assembly.
  • Orientation for the Young Observers as a group by members of the USNC at the meeting site prior to their attending meetings.

3. The program requires that each applicant:

  • Provide a rationale of why the applicant wishes to attend an IUPAC General Assembly and an indication of interest areas among the specific meetings being held at the General Assembly.
  • File a report after attending the General Assembly giving their candid impressions of the meeting. These reports have been very useful in pointing out areas of strengths and weaknesses of the Young Observer program, as well as some observations about IUPAC and its operations.

4. A subcommittee of the USNC handles the funding and publicity, receives and judges applications, and makes the selection of Young Observers to be recommended to the full USNC for approval.

5. Since the selection process is competitive, decisions are made on the basis of the written application.

6. Funding for the program is raised in parallel to the publicity and application steps. The level of funding obtained determines how many Young Observers can be selected. Funding is raised from industry, foundations, and government agencies. Summary reports of previous Young Observer programs are used to "sell" the program to the funding agencies.

7. Final selection of the Young Observers for the General Assembly is made about six months prior to the General Assembly. This allows time for the contacts to be made with committee chairpersons to ensure that the selection of meetings to attend will work out. Also during this six-month period, mentors are identified and contacted. Much of this work is done through the staff office for the USNC.

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