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Vol. 35 No. 1
January-February 2013

President's Column: Increasing the Value of IUPAC Activities

I have been pleased to see the high level of activity of our divisions and standing committees. Here, I will mention only a few illustrations among the numerous examples of these activities.

  1. At the 30th Latin American Chemistry Congress held in Cancun, Mexico, in October 2012, three workshops and a public event were superbly organized under the well-established Flying Chemists Program of the Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE). The public event conducted in Panama prior to the Cancun meeting was also well received. It was both gratifying and inspiring for me to observe many students and young chemists in Mexico and South America participating in these events with such enthusiasm. The related Young Ambassadors for Chemistry Program of the CCE has also been very successful.
  2. The long-standing efforts of the Inorganic Chemistry Division on the natural abundance of isotopes has produced the new “IUPAC Periodic Table of the Isotopes,” which was a highlight of the International Year of Chemistry (see July 2011 CI p. 20 & supplement). The most striking feature of the new table of the isotopes is that it shows the current atomic weight of each element with its measured uncertainty, and thus the standard atomic weights are no longer constants of nature. This will revolutionize the idea of atomic weight, and then that of molecular weights. While challenging, the attempt to familiarize students and teachers with this new way of defining atomic weights is underway. It is intriguing indeed to imagine that the molecular weight of the water at Niagara Falls, Iguacu Falls, and Victoria Falls may be different.
  3. During 2012, off-year meetings of the divisions and standing committees were held. One such meeting was the Physical and Biophysical Chemistry Division held in June in Tokyo. This meeting was unique in that a scientific minisymposium was organized prior to the regular division meeting, where division members presented their recent research (see article). I very much enjoyed attending its opening and scientific sessions, as well as its social gatherings. According to the division president, there are two merits of holding a mini-symposium at the off-year meeting, with which I fully agree. For one, it is critically important to publicize division projects and the scientific activities of division members, and to share expertise. For another, it may be possible for associate members and national representatives to obtain financial support for travel expenses if the trip is for a scientific symposium.
  4. The Polymer Division led the launch of the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Research Funding (CCRF). The second phase of this program developed during the CCRF meeting held in August 2012 at the EuCheMS Congress in Prague. It is always a challenge to attain a strong and synchronized commitment of research funding organizations from various countries, particularly so during this time of economic crisis. I was encouraged by the positive attitude and devotion of the CCRF members and participating national funding agencies. To facilitate multinational research cooperation, the committee has drawn up a new International Call for Proposals to fund relatively small teams of three or four principal investigators from three different countries. These grants will support collaborative basic research focused in the area of sustainable chemistry. The new call is coordinated by the IUPAC Division of Chemistry and the Environment (see article).

The above-mentioned activities are only “the tip of the iceberg” of a wide variety of IUPAC programs and projects conducted by the divisions and standing committees. It goes without saying that the mission of the Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation Division has been an important core activity of IUPAC, and that the Committee on Chemistry and Industry has been addressing the challenge of strengthening the Company Associate program. Moreover, the IUPAC awards such as the Samsung Young Polymer Scientist Award, the CHEMRAWN VII Prize for Atmospheric and Green Chemistry, and the IUPAC Award of Chemistry Olympiads, have had positive impacts on the visibility of IUPAC.

I sense that increasing the value of IUPAC activities is the key to the future of IUPAC.

Observing the high level of activity, I believe that both the significance and the “value” of IUPAC projects and their outcomes warrant wide recognition by the chemistry community and by society at large. We must continue to seek ways to increase the visibility of our activities and our accumulated resources of knowledge. Here the “value” could be acknowledged in three ways. First, the scientific value has to be established, by which our organization is held in high esteem. In order to do so, we must keep up with the rapid progress of science and technology, and we must be proactive in ensuring that our projects capture the latest developments of the emerging areas in chemistry. Second, the link to social values must be reinforced to cope with the world’s needs. An urgent task is to guide chemistry communities to play a major role in building a sustainable society. Third, we must strengthen ties with industry by demonstrating a clear vision for chemistry and chemical industry. Strengthening these values will facilitate an increase in the economic and monetary value of the outputs of our projects. This would put the finances of IUPAC on a firmer basis. Our Secretary General has been striving to generate a mechanism for IUPAC to realize financial benefits from the knowledge generated from our projects.

I sense that increasing the value of IUPAC activities is the key to the future of the Union: to better recognition of the importance of chemistry, to better visibility, to higher prestige, and to a stronger organizational structure. Iupac.tif

Kazuyuki Tatsumi’s <i45100a@nucc.cc.nagoya-u.ac.jp> term as president of IUPAC began on 1 January 2012. Previously, he served as vice president of IUPAC and vice president and president of the Inorganic Chemistry Division. Tatsumi is a professor at Nagoya University and is a member of the Science Council of Japan (NAO for Japan).


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