NEW ORLEANS, April 7, 2013 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) today announced awarding the first grants in a new initiative intended to increase understanding of the science underpinning global climate change among thousands of people around the country.
Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., 2012 president of ACS, the world's largest scientific society, said that 11 of the Society's local sections will receive the first ACS Presidential Climate Science Challenge Grants. The local sections, which are smaller subdivisions of the Society, will use the grants in implementing innovative ways to encourage use of the ACS Climate Science Toolkit to engage a wide variety of audiences. Shakhashiri, a professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced the recipients during the ACS' 245th National Meeting & Exposition, being held here through Thursday.
The ACS Climate Science Toolkit is a web-based resource that explains the chemistry and physics of climate change. Launched last December, it was one of the major initiatives of Shakhashiri's term as ACS president.
"We can anticipate significant impacts and better understanding in this critical area by thousands of people as a result of this ground-breaking program," said Alan W. Elzerman, Ph.D., of Clemson University, who chaired the selection committee. "We feel very strongly that this program has started something very useful and powerful that we would hope will continue as a vehicle for ACS leadership on this topic."
Shakhashiri explained that the mechanisms of climate change are based on fundamental concepts that may not be familiar to scientists working in disciplines unrelated to climate change. They need a robust understanding themselves in order to help others who are not scientists understand the issues relevant to maintaining a livable climate.
"These inaugural grants will encourage ACS members to take up the mantle as scientist-citizens and reach out with climate science information to their colleagues and others," said Shakhashiri. "These include teachers, college and university faculty, industrial scientists and business leaders, civic and religious groups, professional science and educational organizations, and elected public officials at all levels and in all branches of government."
The grants, $3,000 each, were awarded to the following ACS local sections: Central New Mexico; Dallas-Fort Worth; Illinois Heartland; Iowa; Kalamazoo, Mich.; New York; Northern W.V.; Portland, Ore.; Puerto Rico; Puget Sound; and Wakarusa Valley in Kansas.
In addition to Elzerman, the selection committee included Jerry A. Bell, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lucy Eubanks, Clemson University; Larry Krannich, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Kathleen Schulz, Ph.D., Business Results, Inc.
A symposium focusing on the ACS Climate Science Toolkit and scientists' responsibility to communicate climate science to the public will be held at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow in 206-207 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as part of the ACS meeting. The sessions, which include almost 12,000 presentations on new scientific discoveries and other topics, continue through Thursday.