Graduate education focus of key sessions at chemists' meeting in Philadelphia


The scientists who will shape the future of chemistry and how they are prepared to enter the workforce will come under the microscope at the 228th American Chemical Society National Meeting in Philadelphia Aug. 22-26 as special presidential sessions focus on graduate education.

Among the topics to be highlighted are experiments on changing the structure of doctoral education, the past, present and future of graduate education, the new ACS Academic Employment Initiative (AEI) and a look at what graduate students envision for doctoral reform.

A number of graduate education sessions are part of an overall presidential symposium, Responses to Changing Needs in Doctoral Education, sponsored by Charles P. Casey, Ph.D., president of ACS, the world’s largest scientific society. The AEI is a separate special presidential poster session with more than 100 presentations by postdoctoral students. Some highlights of the various sessions are:

  • Doctoral Education — How Did We Get Here? Where are we going? will take a retrospective look at how graduate education has evolved and examine the factors that will affect its future development. One presentation poses the question: Why bother with a Ph.D. in chemistry? Graduate education at the doctoral level is one of the major successes of higher education in the United States, with dramatic growth in programs in the chemical sciences since World War II. This progress has produced rapid changes in the needs and makeup of the workforce and the session will focus on how doctoral level education is preparing to meet the changing needs. The program runs from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23, in the Liberty Room, Philadelphia Marriott.

  • Experiments in Transforming Graduate Education – the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (CID) will explore the continuing efforts by academic departments participating in the initiative to improve graduate programs. The CID is a five-year research and action project designed to help departments better structure their doctoral programs. It covers six fields of study: chemistry, education, English, history, mathematics and neuroscience with several universities nationwide participating in each field. One university has reported a change in its program whereby students rotate through various labs rather than do straight research on their thesis topic. The session runs from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, in the Liberty Room, Philadelphia Marriott.

  • The ACS Academic Employment Initiative (AEI) was created in spring 2004 to broaden the process by which colleges and universities recruit faculty into the chemical sciences. The Society was concerned that too many bright young people from lesser known schools are being overlooked. Some 130 postdoctoral students interested in careers in academia will present their research and teaching philosophies at the first AEI poster session. ACS has invited members of academic search committees to attend the event to meet informally with the students. The program, part of the SciMix interdisciplinary poster session, will be held from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m., Monday, Aug. 23, in Hall D at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street.

  • Creating Complete Scientists: Graduate Student Vision of Doctoral Reform is organized entirely by graduate students. The session will examine chemistry graduate education from the students’ perspective and target the importance of communication and leadership skills for graduating doctoral students. The symposium will address the question: Do reduced requirements affect graduate quality? It also will include recommendations on how to promote mentoring among graduate students and examine student – advisor relationships. The session will be held Tuesday, Aug. 24, from 1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott, Liberty Room.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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