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Library Life: Interview with Northwestern University Librarian Elsa Alvaro

Elsa Alvaro

Elsa Alvaro is Head of Academic Engagement and the Librarian for Chemistry and Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Northwestern University Libraries.

Tell me about your current role:

My job as Head of Academic Engagement involves connecting the Northwestern community with the library’s collections, services, and expertise; overseeing two of Northwestern’s most notable libraries, the Transportation Library and the Herskovits Library of African Studies; and supporting student success connected to the library in a variety of ways, from directing orientation programs for undergraduate and graduate students to managing technology-rich spaces in which students can collaborate, learn and create. I am also the Librarian for Chemistry and Chemical and Biological Engineering.

What is your background?

I am originally from Spain and have a PhD in Chemistry. After obtaining my postdoc at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I decided to pursue a degree in Library Science. It was at that time that I was awarded the ACS Division of Chemical Information Lucille Wert award, which started my involvement with CINF. I joined Northwestern as a chemistry librarian in 2013 and in 2019, I advanced to a leadership position in the library, becoming Head of Academic Engagement.

How do you help to address challenges faced by your institution’s students and faculty?

By putting librarians at the heart of academic life! We are an indispensable thread in the academic fabric.

For students, we do that by acknowledging the many different facets that define their experience at Northwestern University; those facets are opportunities to help students succeed. For example, if you are a chemistry major, we have a subject librarian specializing in your field who can help you discover the resources you need for rigorous research. If you are conducting undergraduate research, we have you covered there, too; we offer a summer grant for undergraduate students and a librarian works with the Office of Undergraduate Research to make sure we are addressing your unique concerns. For those who are studying abroad or interested in entrepreneurship, we have partnerships, tools, and resources to support those needs. Our engagement efforts extend to other aspects of the student experience, including new student programs and orientations, and end of term programming to support student well-being.

What are some trends that you are observing in the library world right now?

Academic libraries preserve, produce and provide access to knowledge. But we do not live in a bubble – our mission is connected to advancing research, teaching and learning at our institutions. That means that trends and challenges that impact universities, researchers, and society in general, are going to influence and shape our work. In the past years we have seen an increase in openness in the communication of research; and we are also observing that more fields are embracing AI and machine learning. Those trends have implications for us, including making available the work of our institutions (though licensing agreements, but also by being publishers), and the need to have a robust digital strategy and infrastructure.

As a result of the pandemic and understanding that the library is a workplace, one important current issue is how to be an equitable and inclusive community in which all library workers have the support to succeed in their roles.

What areas of interest are you focused on right now? 

My background as a chemist and a researcher strongly influences my approach to my job as librarian. I’m always looking forward to challenges, and I love to develop new programs to address gaps or unmet needs. For example, we are launching a new service to support systematic reviews and other types of evidence syntheses; this type of reviews is common in fields such as medical research but not so much in other disciplines. I am interested in bridging that gap, for instance by providing workshops and consultations in different aspects of the review process, and collaborating with researchers in projects.

You were also the chair of ACS’s Chemical Information (CINF) division in 2019. What was that like?

It was truly terrific. The experiences, opportunities and connections that I got through CINF have been key in my professional career, so I was honored and delighted to serve as chair. CINF is unique in the way it brings together informatics, librarianship, and data expertise in one community. Also, CINF officers and volunteers are a welcoming, talented, and supportive group of people, and a joy to work with. I was pleased that we engaged in strategic planning during my tenure.

A very important question: Who is your favorite scientist?

My spouse. Hands down. He is a theoretical physicist who works in neuromorphic computing and materials growth. Neuromorphic computing is a computer engineering approach that models and develops computing devices inspired by the human brain.

What is a fun fact about Northwestern University?

In 1921, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Marie Curie visited Northwestern University with her daughter to receive an honorary degree. During her visit, 100 area women coordinated a fundraising campaign and raised $100,000 (this would be over $1.4 million today!) to allow Madame Curie to purchase one gram of radium to continue her studies.

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5 Reasons to Publish Open Access with ACS Omega

ACS Omega is a fully open access journal with a broad, multidisciplinary scope. It includes the scope of the more than 70 ACS Publications journals and some topics and types of results other ACS journals don’t publish. The journal welcomes both pure and applied sciences, as well as the interfacing areas of science, including biochemistry, chemical biology, materials science, nanoscience, pharmacology, geochemistry, industrial chemistry, environmental chemistry, chemical engineering— and more.

The journal focuses its editorial decisions on the research itself, not on the perceived evaluation of immediate impact.

ACS Omega publishes high-quality new findings, studies that demonstrate the reproducibility of existing research, large datasets, and noteworthy negative results. If you have questions about whether your work is a good fit for ACS Omega, you can email with a pre-publication inquiry.

The ACS Omega Co-Editors and the journal’s entire Editorial Board encourage you to submit your manuscript to ACS Omega.

Find out why you should publish open access with ACS Omega.

#1: ACS Omega provides high-quality editing and peer review led by a team of active researchers

Editorial decision-making at ACS Omega comes from a team of respected, active researchers whose scientific expertise represents the broad range of chemistry and related fields. At the head of this team are two Co-Editors-in-Chief:

  • Professor Deqing Zhang, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • Professor Krishna Ganesh, Ph.D., Director of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupati, India

Thirteen eminent associate and senior editors who lead research groups in ten countries across four continents make up the rest of the ACS Omega editorial team.

This diverse editorial team follows the same thorough peer-review process as all ACS Publications journals— a process honed over the more than 140 years of scientific publishing since the launch of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) in 1879.

#2: ACS Omega serves a diverse, global community of researchers and readers

Like ACS Omega’s editors, its authors, reviewers, and readers span the globe creating a diverse international community of scientists sharing and discussing the newest research findings. It includes student researchers and Nobel Laureates, and investigators at universities and in industry.

When you publish a paper in ACS Omega, you contribute to this community, and its members see your research.

#3: ACS Omega provides rapid manuscript processing

ACS Omega’s editorial team has processes in place to expedite articles through the peer-review process so they can publish your article quickly. They are continually looking for ways to improve these processes, so authors’ work can publish as rapidly as possible.

If you accept a transfer to ACS Omega from another ACS Publications journal, you save the time it would take to rework your manuscript and submit it to another journal for consideration. This means you can share your results with the community as quickly as possible.

#4: ACS Omega is a fully open access journal and is indexed in all major databases

ACS Omega is a fully open access journal, which means every published article is accessible—in full text, complete with all figures in full color—to anyone with an internet connection. This makes it easier for anyone to read your results and cite them in their own work.

If your funder or institution requires you to publish your results in a fully open access journal, ACS Omega offers a CC-BY license option—which meets the most stringent funder requirements. The APC covers your choice of open-access Creative Commons license (CC-BY or CC-BY-NC-ND).

ACS Omega is listed and indexed in all major databases, including:

These listings represent the most trusted databases in scholarly publishing and allow researchers to search and easily find relevant content using their favorite databases. In fact, on behalf of its’ authors, ACS deposits all in-issue published articles from ACS Omega automatically into PubMed Central, also searchable at PubMed.

#5: ACS Omega comes from a nonprofit society publisher

As a division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and a nonprofit society publisher, ACS Publications shares and contributes to the Society’s overall mission of advancing the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.

Article Publishing Charge (APC)

ACS Publications is committed to sustainable publishing— ensuring it has the resources to provide high-quality editing, organize a rigorous peer-review system, and keep pace with the latest technology for sharing research across the globe, while also ensuring researchers have the resources to share their results with the global scientific community.

ACS Publications sets the APC for open access articles according to this principle. For ACS Omega, the APC is $1,685, which includes every aspect of publishing an article as well as your choice of open access license. There are no separate submission charges, additional page charges, color charges, or other fees.

See if your country is eligible for an ACS Omega country discount.

ACS Omega Authors Get a 1-Year ACS Membership

Corresponding authors who publish open access with ACS Omega and aren’t current members also receive a one-year membership to the American Chemical Society, joining the world’s largest society of chemistry professionals.

ACS members receive a long list of benefits, including:

  • Meeting registration discounts. ACS members receive significant discounts on the registration fees for ACS’s Spring and Fall National Meetings and dozens of ACS Regional Meetings held across the U.S. each year.
  • A C&EN subscription. ACS Members get a free subscription to Chemical & Engineering News and the C&EN Archives. C&EN has editors and reporters around the world covering news related to science and technology, business and industry, government and policy, education, and employment aspects of the chemistry field.
  • Complimentary SciFinder® use. ACS Members get 25 complimentary SciFinder® activities for personal use per membership term. SciFinder® is a research-discovery solution that brings together the world’s largest, most reliable chemistry and science-related databases under a single interface. You can use it to search for chemical information on substances, reactions, and references from patents, journals, chemical suppliers, web sources, books, conferences, and more.

Read the latest issue and learn how to how to submit your manuscript to ACS Omega.


Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 7: Standards of Scientific Writing

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

The words chosen by a writer are one of the defining characteristics of that author’s style; however, word choice is not governed by style alone. The audience for an article must influence a writer’s choice of words so that the writer can select words that are likely to be known to the audience and define the words that are not. The type of document also may influence a writer’s word choices because some documents, such as journal articles and books, tend to require more formal word usage, whereas other documents, such as emails, allow less formality.

Common Confusing Words and Phrases

The choice of the correct word to express meaning begins with a good dictionary, but it also extends to understanding small differences in meaning between two words or phrases that are almost synonymous or that are spelled similarly but have significant differences in meaning. It is best to use words in their primary meanings and to avoid using a word to express a thought if such usage is uncommon, informal, or primarily literary. Many words are clear when you are speaking because you can amplify your meaning with gestures, expressions, and vocal inflections, but when these same words are written, they may be clear only to you.

Words: Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

Usage: To assure is to affirm; to ensure is to make certain; to insure is to indemnify for money.

Example sentences:

He assured me that the work had been completed.

The procedure ensures that clear guidelines have been established.

You cannot get a mortgage unless you insure your home.

Phrases: Based on vs. On the basis of

Usage:  Phrases starting with “based on” must modify a noun or pronoun that usually immediately precedes or follows the phrase. Use phrases starting with “on the basis of” to modify a verb.

Example sentences:

The doctors’ new methods in brain surgery were based on Ben Carson’s work.

On the basis of the molecular orbital calculations, we propose a mechanism that can account for all the major features of alkali- and alkaline-earth-catalyzed gasification reactions. (not ‘based on’)

Words: Comprise vs. Compose

Usage: Use “to comprise” to mean “to contain” or “to consist of”; it is not a synonym for “to compose.” The whole comprises the parts, or the whole is composed of the parts, but the whole is not “comprised of” the parts. Never use “is comprised of.”

Example sentences:

INCORRECT: A book is comprised of chapters.

CORRECT: A book comprises chapters.

CORRECT: A book is composed of chapters.

Using Gender-Neutral Languages

Most publishers have gone to great effort to eliminate the use of gender-biased language from their publications. Gender-neutral language is also now expected in scientific publishing. Current style guides and writing guides urge copy editors and writers to choose terms that do not reinforce outdated sex and gender roles.

Gender-neutral language can be accurate and unbiased and not necessarily awkward. The most problematic words are the noun “man,” when used to refer to humans generally, and the pronouns “he” and “his,” when used to refer to a nonspecific individual. These terms are no longer considered gender-neutral, but there are usually several satisfactory gender-neutral alternatives for these words. Choose an alternative carefully and keep it consistent with the context. Of course, if the identity of the person being discussed is known, then it is perfectly acceptable to use their specified pronouns.

How to Use a Comparative Phrase

Words: Fewer vs. Less

Usage: Use “fewer” to refer to number; use “less” to refer to quantity. However, use “less” with number and unit of measure combinations because they are regarded as singular.


Fewer than 50 animals

Fewer than 100 samples

Less product

Less time

Less work

Less than 5 mg

Less than 3 days

Phrases: Greater than vs. More than vs. Over vs. In excess of

Usage: Use the more accurate terms “greater than” or “more than” rather than the imprecise “over” or “in excess of.”

Example sentences:

Greater than 50% (not in excess of 50%)

More than 100 samples (not over 100 samples)

More than 25 mg (not in excess of 25 mg, not over 25 mg)

Phrases: On (the) one hand and On the other hand

Usage: Use “on (the) one hand” and “on the other hand” to present conflicting points of view. These two phrases should be used only as a pair, never alone, and preferably within a few sentences of each other. In other words, use “on the other hand” only if “on (the) one hand” precedes it.

Example sentences:

On (the) one hand, we wanted to arrive early so that we could practice our presentation and correct any last-minute problems. On the other hand, we did not want to miss the current session of talks and the opportunity to talk to others about their research.

Avoid Using Inappropriate Words and Expressions

Write in a style that conveys the intended meaning using simple, subject-appropriate language. Avoid slang and jargon, which are expressions in the common vernacular that are not formal enough to be appropriate in a professional context. Write as if speaking to a colleague. For instance, instead of writing, “We put the sample in the fridge for a while,” write, “We stored the sample in the refrigerator at 4 ºC overnight.”

Do not use “respectively” when you mean “separately” or “independently.”

INCORRECT: The electrochemical oxidations of chromium and tungsten tricarbonyl complexes, respectively, were studied.

CORRECT: The electrochemical oxidations of chromium and tungsten tricarbonyl complexes were studied separately.

Avoid using contractions and abbreviations:


CORRECT: Was not

INCORRECT: In the lab

CORRECT: In the laboratory

Avoid using such redundant sentence structures as “it is,” “there are,” and “this is”:

INCORRECT: It is a procedure that is often used.

CORRECT: This procedure is often used.

INCORRECT: There are seven steps that must be completed.

CORRECT:  Seven steps must be completed.

INCORRECT: This is a problem that is prevalent in the sciences.

CORRECT: This problem is prevalent in the sciences.

For more information on using making better word choices, please refer to section 5.1.1 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 6: Graphics and Tables

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 


Graphics are an integral part of a manuscript that helps authors present a lot of information without the need for lengthy descriptive phrases. As modern instruments and computational tools generate enormous data, selecting the right plot to present data becomes a key step in highlighting new advances presented in the article.  Many people “read” a research article by scanning the figures. Each graphic, together with its caption, should be able to stand alone and include the essential information.

When to Use Graphics?

Use a graphic when a visual presentation:

  • Improves the effectiveness of the data presentation
  • Provides a better understanding of the results and/or increases the reader’s comprehension
  • Makes it easier to view trends and relationships in the data (relative proportions, magnitudes, etc.)
  • Highlights specific results with quantitative analysis
  • Communicates the information more succinctly than in prose

For more information on designing graphics, please refer to section 4.1.3 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

How to Use Published Graphics or Data?

Use original graphics in your article whenever possible. If you plan to include information from a previously published graphic, determine whether you can provide enough information by simply citing the previous publication or whether it is necessary to include a copy of the previous graphic. If you include the graphic, be sure it is a clear, high-quality image.

Clip art and images taken from the internet typically require copyright permission. If you are unable to obtain permission, the image cannot be included in the article. Obtain and provide written copyright permission, if required.

Whether you include either a copy or a slightly modified version of a previously published graphic, the reproduction or modification should be stated in the caption, and copyright permission obtained if required by the copyright holder. Copyright permission is typically not required when the graphic is redrawn, meaning there is extensive modification to the point where it can be considered a new graphic.

What is a Table of Contents Graphic/Graphical Abstract?

One of the most important but often neglected graphics in an article is the Table of Contents (TOC) graphic. It is published on the Table of Contents as well as next to the article’s Abstract in most journals. It is one of the first things a potential reader sees, and it can either attract a reader or cause them to skip over your article.

A Good TOC Graphic:

  • Tells the reader what the article is about
  • Is a simple unique color scheme or illustration
  • Is provided in the manuscript in its actual published size (refer to the Author Guidelines for specific journal requirements)
  • Fits into the size recommended by the journal (usually a horizontal frame)
  • Has minimal text, with all text legible when viewed at the published size.

In this video, ACS Editors share advice on getting started with a paper and creating figures.

For more information on TOC graphics, please refer to section 4.1.5 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.


When to Use Tables?

Use tables when the data cannot be presented clearly as narrative, when many precise numbers must be presented, or when meaningful interrelationships can be better conveyed by a tabular format. Tables should supplement, not duplicate, text and figures.

Determine whether the material you want to present really warrants a table. A table should generally consist of at least three interrelated columns and three rows. If you have only two columns, try writing the material as a narrative. If your table has unusual alignment and positioning requirements, consider making it a figure instead. If you have three columns, but they do not relate to each other, consider whether the material is really a list of items and not a table at all.

For more information on using tables, please refer to section 4.2.1  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Parts of a Table

Effective tables are well designed, so think carefully—first, about the data you need to present and, second, about the best way to present it visually on a page. Sometimes, what looks fine on a letter-size sheet of paper is not practical for an online journal or book.

Parts of a table. Source: adapted from Dopilka, A; Zhao, R.; Well,J. M.; Svilen, B.; Peng, X.; Chan, C. K. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2018, 10 (44), 37981–37991. Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society.


Give every table a brief, informative title that describes its contents in non-sentence format. The title should be complete enough to be understood without referring to the text.

Column heading

Every column must have a heading that describes the material below it. Be as succinct as possible. Keep column headings to no more than two lines if possible and use abbreviations and symbols whenever practical.

Spanner heading

If a column heading applies to more than one column, it should span the columns to which it applies. This is called a spanner heading (or sometimes a straddle heading). Below the spanner heading, give the specific heading for each column.


Table footnotes include explanatory material referring to the whole table and to specific entries. Examples of information that should be placed in general footnotes referring to the whole table explanations of abbreviations and symbols used frequently throughout the table.

For more information on designing tables, please refer to section 4.2.4  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Multimedia Files

Multimedia is an effective way for enhancing demonstration and communication of research findings and promoting communications. Before creating a video or Web-Enhanced Objects (WEO), please refer to the author’s guide of specific journals to learn about whether such files are allowed to be used in the journals.

Video Files

Videos are useful ways to provide demonstrations and simulations, to illustrate methods, or to discuss your research. Examples of acceptable file types include .qt, .mov, .avi, and .mpg.

ACS Web-Enhanced Objects (WEO)

The Web editions of ACS Journals allow authors to make use of multimedia attachments called Web-Enhanced Objects (WEOs) to further the understanding of the research being reported in their article. WEOs include graphics, text, 3D images, spectra, and videos. Links to WEOs appear in the HTML version of the published article.

For more information on using multimedia, please refer to section 4.1.6  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 5: The Review Process

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from theACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

When a manuscript has been submitted to a journal and complies with all submission standards of the journal, the editor-in-chief will make the first review decision on whether to reject the manuscript or transfer it to an associate editor-in-chief, who is often chosen on the basis of his/her fields of expertise and sometimes other factors such as his/her workload. After accepting the transferred manuscript, the associate editor-in-chief shall decide whether to assign the manuscript to an external reviewer on the basis of his/her first review decision, and make a final decision on accepting or rejecting publication of the manuscript by going through the procedures including external reviewer reporting, etc.

When a manuscript is submitted to a journal and meets all the submission criteria, the journal’s editorial team must make an initial decision: to decline the submission or to assign it to an editor who will then move it through the necessary steps to a final decision, including accepting the manuscript for publication. Editors are generally assigned on the basis of subject expertise, but sometimes workload and availability play a role. The assigned editor then reviews the manuscript and either declines the submission, recommends the manuscript be transferred to another journal, or assigns the manuscript to be peer reviewed.

Learn More About the Peer Review Process

The peer review process.

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the peer review process, but many scholars still need to learn how to respond to review feedback, especially when a paper is rejected.

Review Feedback

After accepting an invitation to review a submission, a reviewer is allowed anywhere between several days to twoweeks, depending on the journal, to provide written comments, which can fall into twocategories: (1) comments that are only for the editor and (2) comments that are shared with the authors. The first type of feedback, comments for the editor only, should be restricted to expressing concerns about potential ethical violations. They should not include comments on the quality of the manuscript.

Reviewers evaluate submissions based on how well the authors answered their research questions, whether the conclusions and implications were appropriately derived from the results and findings, whether suitable techniques and methods were used, and whether the research advances the field. Perhaps an even more critical role of reviewers is to evaluate whether the arguments presented by the authors are sufficient and effective enough to inform and convince a typical reader of the value of the published work. Reviewers ensure the authors meet the standards of the discipline and the results and conclusions are warranted, and ultimately help maintain the integrity of the science.

For more information on the peer review process, please refer to section 2.5.2 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Handling Rejection

Every scholar has to learn to deal with rejection in a professional and constructive manner. In the video, ACS editors share their tips for handling rejection and how to bounce back.

How to Become an Excellent Reviewer

ACS Publications has created a free online training course to assist both new and experienced reviewers in mastering the core ideas of the review process. The ACS Reviewer Labwas designed by ACS editors, leading researchers, and ACS Publications staff. The six interactive modules provide practical guidance and real-life situations to help recognize ethical issues, to better understand the criteria for a review, and to formulate and write an effective evaluation. The six modules are as follows: (1) Introduction to Peer Review; (2) Ethics in Peer Review; (3) Preparing for Review; (4) Assessing Significance and Technical Quality; (5) Assessing Presentation and Readiness for Publication; and (6) Writing Your Review. The modules include exercises to test knowledge, videos, downloadable summary sheets, and a final assessment. The site requires a valid ACS ID, but registration and usage are free; the content is available in several languages.

ACS Reviewer Lab.

The Importance of Obtaining Peer Review Credit

Providing professional service to one’s research community is an important part of a researcher’s job description. When being considered for promotion or undergoing merit evaluations, individuals need to document their contributions to the scientific community as reviewers. In some instances, providing a list of journals and the number of manuscripts that have been reviewed is enough. In other cases, more formal tracking of an individual’s service may be needed.

Reviewers of ACS Publications journal articles can now receive public acknowledgment of their work, thanks to a collaboration with ORCID(Open Researcher and Contributor ID). Reviewers will be able to get credit through their ORCID profile, without revealing which article they’ve reviewed.

For more information on review credit, please refer to section 2.5.4 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Get Advice on Creating an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Lab

Everyone deserves to come to work as their full and authentic selves. But there are structural reasons why LGBTQ+ have historically be reluctant to do this. While many workplaces have updated their official policies to prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination, there is still work to be done to create a workplace culture where everyone feels comfortable and can do their best work. Luckily, that’s a problem everyone can help tackle in their own workplaces. As part of the “Changing the Culture of Chemistry” webinar series, a panel of distinguished chemists got together to discuss ways organizations can be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ professionals.

Watch an on-demand presentation of the webinar:

This one-hour program featured a panel of engaging speakers, including:

  • Professor Carolyn R. Bertozzi of Stanford University, and Editor-in-Chief of ACS Central Science, who talked about her journey and importance of mentorship for the next generation.
  • Dr. Ronald E. Hunter, Jr. of Mérieux NutriSciences, who talked about the characteristics of a welcoming organization.
  • Professor Nancy S.B. Williams of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges

The session closed with a question-and-answer session moderated by Megan White, and ACS Senior Product Development Analyst, where all three panelists were able to share more insights and advice.

10 Things Everyone Can Do to Support Women Scientists

A recent Virtual Issue published by Molecular Pharmaceutics highlights the work of some of the journal’s most creative and successful woman pharmaceutical scientists across academia and the pharmaceutical industry. The articles were selected by the journal Editors and they provide a cross-section of the many challenging research areas being tackled by women in the pharmaceutical sciences. In an accompanying editorial, they summarize these contributions and provide some thoughts on how the pharmaceutical science community can support and promote their women colleagues.

Here are 10 things everyone can do to support women scientists:

  1. Women scientists need allies and coaches, and these need to come from the entire scientific cohort, both men and women.
  2. Nominate women for awards. Perhaps make it a yearly resolution to nominate a minimum of 3 women for an award, including graduate students, postdoctoral associates, faculty and work colleagues, collaborators, etc.
  3. If you are organizing a session at a conference, make sure you have women on the organizing committees and invite women speakers and moderators.
  4. If you are a speaker at a conference, encourage the session organizers to invite women, especially if they are under-represented within the session. Consider refusing to speak if women are not adequately represented at a session.
  5. Mentor women scientists. The support provided by mentorship is essential to help women scientists achieve their full potential.
  6. Ensure that there is gender balance on important decision-making committees and panels (hiring, promotion, proposal review, financial allocation, etc.), but do not overburden women with low-importance service committees.
  7. Be an active bystander: call out people in meetings who interrupt or talk over women, and intervene if women presenters face aggressive and dismissive questioning at conferences. Do not allow the voices and suggestions of women to be ignored in meetings.
  8. Promote the work of women scientists by citing their papers, talking about their work, and inviting them to give presentations.
  9. Recognize that you may be subject to implicit bias and take steps to counteract it. Implicit bias against women is an issue for both women and men and leads to subtle acts of discrimination such as less enthusiastic letters of recommendation relative to counterparts who are men or the automatic assumption that the man in the room is the senior person.
  10. Nominate women for leadership positions including within the workplace, in professional organizations, and for editorial roles.

What Chemists Need to Know About Career-Planning and Mentorship

Creating a successful chemistry career is about more than just your skills in the lab. It’s also about networking, communication, planning, and perseverance. These skills are often gained through personal experience, but they can also be passed down from established chemists who have already walked this road. As part of the “Changing the Culture of Chemistry” webinar series, a panel of distinguished researchers got together to discuss ways chemists can take their careers to the next level.

Watch an on-demand presentation of the webinar:

This one-hour program featured a panel of engaging speakers, including:

  • Professor Brandi M. Cossairt of the University of Washington, who discussed the importance of mentorship, ways to find a potential mentor, and how to get the most out of that relationship.
  • Professor Jennifer M. Heemstra of Emory University, who talked about some of the considerations importance of flexibility in career planning, the advantages of diverse career experiences.
  • Professor Robert J. Gilliard, Jr. of the University of Virginia, who discussed his own career path and the approaches that helped him get to where he is today.

The session closed with a question-and-answer session moderated by Joerg Schlatterer, Senior Manager of the ACS Student & Postdoctoral Scholars Office, where all three panelists were able to share more tips and advice.

Chemists Discuss Race and Diversity in the Lab

Racial issues have been very much in the news during 2020, leading many organizations to take a critical look at themselves and ask how they can do a better job of fostering diversity, inclusion, and respect. Chemists are no exception to this movement, which is why ACS Publications recently hosted the webinar on race and diversity in the lab, as part of their ongoing Changing the Culture of Chemistry series.

This one-hour program featured a panel of prominent chemists, including:

  • Professor Edgar A. Arriaga, of the University of Minnesota, who discussed how labs can take the approach of “inclusive excellence” when hiring and developing researchers, as well as considering the lab environment through the lens of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
  • Professor Steven D. Townsend, of Vanderbilt University, who talked about how chemists can improve their diversity intelligence, check for blind spots, and take unconscious biases into account.
  • Professor Ann C. Kimble-Hill, of Indiana University School of Medicine, who spoke about incorporating identity safety into a lab’s safety culture, so that all researchers can feel secure and valued in their work.

Dr. Carlos Toro of ACS Publications acted as the program’s moderator, fielding questions from attendees at the end of the event.

Watch the full presentation of Changing the Culture of Chemistry: Race and Diversity in the Lab


Diversity policies can feel remote and even abstract, but an organization’s culture is something every member of a team can help influence. Together, the speakers at this event offered a variety of ways for chemists to positively impact their organization’s culture, making it more diverse, inclusive, and respectful.

Free Webinar: Changing the Culture of Chemistry: Improving Work-Life Balance

An organization’s culture defines how it approaches problems in the workplace. Whether you’re the head of your own lab or a graduate student, workplace culture is something everyone can influence every time they go to work. That’s why ACS Publications is leading a series of webinars on the ways chemists can improve their lab’s culture and make their workplace increasingly diverse, safe, and sustainable.

The next webinar in our Changing the Culture of Chemistry series is dedicated to discussing Improving Work-Life Balance.

Join us Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 11:00am EDT | 10:00am CDT | 9:00am MDT | 8:00am PDT

Attendees will hear chemists in academia and industry speak about:

  • their experiences in creating balance in their own lives
  • common challenges to achieving/maintaining balance

This free one-hour program will end with a moderated discussion and an opportunity to ask questions of the panel.


Dan Hickman, Ph.D
Dan Hickman, Ph.D.
Devin Swiner
Devin Swiner
Ph.D. Candidate, expected 2021, Ohio State University
Lynne S. Taylor
Lynne S. Taylor
Retter Professor of Pharmacy,
Purdue University College of Pharmacy
Laura Fernandez
Moderator: Laura Fernandez, Ph.D.
ACS Publications

Register Now