The CSR is a unique science-oriented, apolitical forum of leaders of the chemical enterprise. Its objectives are to facilitate enhanced understanding of issues in the chemical sciences and technologies that affect government, industry, academic, national laboratory, and nonprofit sectors, and the interactions among them; and to furnish a vehicle for education, exchange of information and discussion of issues and trends that affect the chemical sciences. It accomplishes these goals, in part, by organizing workshops on highly relevant and important topics–for which published proceedings are made broadly available throughout the chemical sciences community. These workshops and the proceedings are designed to enable follow-up discussion or action by others in the chemical sciences community.
2017 – The Chemistry of Microbiomes
The 21st century has witnessed a complete revolution in the understanding and description of bacteria in eco- systems and microbial assemblages, and how they are regulated by complex interactions among microbes, hosts, and environments. The human organism is no longer considered a monolithic assembly of tissues, but is instead a true ecosystem composed of human cells, bacteria, fungi, algae, and viruses. As such, humans are not unlike other complex ecosystems containing microbial assemblages observed in the marine and earth environments. They all share a basic functional principle: Chemical communication is the universal language that allows such groups to properly function together. These chemical networks regulate interactions like metabolic exchange, antibiosis and symbiosis, and communication.
Oil and gas exploration in the United States has expanded with the increased use of horizontal, or directional, drilling to facilitate the recovery of shale gas and tight oil resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 25,000 to 30,000 new hydraulic fracturing wells were drilled each year between 2011 to 2014, and the impact of those wells and the use of hydraulic fracturing has been a topic of public and policy discussion in recent years. Though chemistry and chemical engineering are used extensively in the hydraulic fracturing process, their roles are not well understood outside of the oil and gas industries. In a workshop held May 18-19, 2015 in Washington, DC, practitioners and experts in these fields came together to discuss shale gas and tight oil resource development.
2014 – Mesoscale Chemistry
Advances in theoretical, computational, synthetic, and analytical techniques have supported the extension of research into the study and development of mesoscale structures and processes. Studies conducted at this size range, from 10nm to 10µm, have identified interesting ensemble effects that present both opportunities for developing new functionality of materials and understanding of biological systems and interfacial systems as well as challenges for analysis and description. This 1.5-day symposium focused on the research on chemical phenomena at the mesoscale, and participants were invited to actively participate in discussions responding to panels of speakers to identify opportunities and challenges in chemical and chemical engineering research at the mesoscale.
As a result of this workshop a summary of the talks and the discussion will be published. Questions considered during the workshop will include:
- What is the current state of the art of research at the mesoscale in chemistry and chemical engineering?
- What is the particular value to chemists and chemical engineers of studying and exploiting individual and collective behaviors at this scale?
- What opportunities and challenges exist for research in this area?
Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development is the summary of a workshop convened by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable in September 2013 to explore the current state of antibiotic discovery and examine the technology available to facilitate development. Through formal presentations and panel discussions, participants from academia, industry, federal research agencies discussed the technical challenges present and the incentives and disincentives industry faces in antibiotic development, and identified novel approaches to antibiotic discovery.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing problem in modern medicine and it is emerging as a pre-eminent public health threat. Each year in the United States alone, at least two million acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die annually as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections. In addition to the toll on human life, antibiotic-resistant infections add considerable and avoidable costs to the already overburdened U.S. health care system. This report explores the challenges in overcoming antibiotic resistance, screening for new antibiotics, and delivering them to the sites of infection in the body. The report also discusses a path forward to develop the next generation of potent antimicrobial compounds capable of once again tilting the battle against microbial pathogens in favor of humans. Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development gives a broad view of the landscape of antibiotic development and the technological challenges and barriers to be overcome.
Undergraduate Chemistry Education is the summary of a workshop convened in May 2013 by the Chemical Science Roundtable of the National Research Council to explore the current state of undergraduate chemistry education. Research and innovation in undergraduate chemistry education has been done for many years, and one goal of this workshop was to assist in the transfer of lessons learned from the education research community to faculty members whose expertise lies in the field of chemistry rather than in education. Through formal presentations and panel discussions, participants from academia, industry, and funding organizations explored drivers of change in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; innovations in chemistry education; and challenges and opportunities in chemistry education reform. Undergraduate Chemistry Education discusses large-scale innovations that are transferable, widely applicable, and/or proven successful, with specific consideration of drivers and metrics of change, barriers to implementation of changes, and examples of innovation in the classroom.
Based on a one-day public workshop held in Washington, DC, Opportunities and Obstacles in Large-Scale Biomass Utilization: The Role of the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Communities: A Workshop Summary explores the current state of biomass utilization for bulk-production of sustainable fuels and chemicals. The discussion focused on the chemistry and chemical engineering opportunities to meet the aforementioned objectives. Both formal presentations and breakout working groups were components of the workshop in an effort to stimulate engaging discussion among participants from widely varying fields.
In September 2011, the Chemical Sciences Roundtable organized a workshop on the topic, “The Role of Chemical Sciences in Finding Alternatives to Critical Resources.” The one-and-a-half-day workshop addressed key topics, including the economic and political matrix, the history of societal responses to key mineral and material shortages, the applications for and properties of existing minerals and materials, and the chemistry of possible replacements. The workshop featured several presentations highlighting the importance of critical nonfuel mineral and material resources in history, catalysis, agriculture, and electronic, magnetic, and optical applications.
The Role of the Chemical Sciences in Finding Alternatives to Critical Resources: A Workshop Summary explains the presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop. In accordance with the policies of the NRC, the workshop did not attempt to establish any conclusions or recommendations about needs and future directions, focusing instead on issues identified by the speakers.
Small particles are ubiquitous in the natural and built worlds and have tremendous impact throughout. However, a lack of understanding about the properties and chemical composition of small particles limits our ability to predict, and control their applications and impacts.
Challenges in Characterizing Small Particles: Exploring Particles from the Nano- to Microscales summarizes presentations and discussions at a 2010 National Academies roundtable. Speakers at this roundtable discussed the crucial types of information that need to be determined about small particles in different media. They also explored the critical importance of small particles in environmental science, materials and chemical sciences, biological science, and engineering, and the many challenges involved in characterizing materials at the nano- and microscales. The discussions on characterization included static, dynamic, experimental, computational, and theoretical characterization. The workshop also included several “research tool” presentations that highlighted new advances in characterizing small particles.
In May 2010, the National Academies’ Chemical Sciences Roundtable held a workshop to examine how the public obtains scientific information informally and to discuss methods that chemists can use to improve and expand efforts to reach a general, nontechnical audience. Workshop participants included chemical practitioners (e.g., graduate students, postdocs, professors, administrators); experts on informal learning; public and private funding organizations; science writers, bloggers, publishers, and university communications officers; and television and Internet content producers. Chemistry in Primetime and Online is a factual summary of what occurred in that workshop.
Chemistry in Primetime and Online examines science content, especially chemistry, in various informal educational settings. It explores means of measuring recognition and retention of the information presented in various media formats and settings. Although the report does not provide any conclusions or recommendations about needs and future directions, it does discuss the need for chemists to connect more with professional writers, artists, or videographers, who know how to communicate with and interest general audiences. It also emphasizes the importance of formal education in setting the stage for informal interactions with chemistry and chemists.
A strong chemical workforce in the United States will be essential to the ability to address many issues of societal concern in the future, including demand for renewable energy, more advanced materials, and more sophisticated pharmaceuticals. High school chemistry teachers have a critical role to play in engaging and supporting the chemical workforce of the future, but they must be sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to produce the levels of scientific literacy that students need to succeed.
To identify key leverage points for improving high school chemistry education, the National Academies’ Chemical Sciences Roundtable held a public workshop, summarized in this volume, that brought together representatives from government, industry, academia, scientific societies, and foundations involved in outreach programs for high school chemistry teachers. Presentations at the workshop, which was held in August 2008, addressed the current status of high school chemistry education; provided examples of public and private outreach programs for high school chemistry teachers; and explored ways to evaluate the success of these outreach programs.
Faced with the steady rise in energy costs, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, and the need to maintain a healthy environment – exploration of alternative energy sources is essential for meeting energy needs. Biological systems employ a variety of efficient ways to collect, store, use, and produce energy. By understanding the basic processes of biological models, scientists may be able to create systems that mimic biomolecules and produce energy in an efficient and cost effective manner. On May 14-15, 2007 a group of chemists, chemical engineers, and others from academia, government, and industry participated in a workshop sponsored by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable to explore how bioinspired chemistry can help solve some of the important energy issues the world faces today. The workshop featured presentations and discussions on the current energy challenges and how to address them, with emphasis on both the fundamental aspects and the robust implementation of bioinspired chemistry for energy.
In this workshop, widespread implementation of green chemistry into undergraduate and graduate education was explored. This workshop focused on the integration of green chemistry and engineering into the established and developing chemistry and chemical engineering curricula.
Leading educators and industry managers showcased exemplary programs and provided a forum for discussion and critical thinking about the development, evaluation, and dissemination of promising educational activities in green chemistry.
Globalization the flow of people, goods, services, capital, and technology across international borders is significantly impacting the chemistry and chemical engineering professions. Chemical companies are seeking new ideas, a trained workforce, and new market opportunities regardless of geographic location. During an October 2003 workshop, leaders in chemistry and chemical engineering from industry, academia, government, and private funding organizations explored the implications of an increasingly global research environment for the chemistry and chemical engineering workforce. The workshop presentations described deficiencies in the current educational system and the need to create and sustain a globally aware workforce in the near future. The goal of the workshop was to inform the Chemical Sciences Roundtable, which provides a science-oriented, apolitical forum for leaders in the chemical sciences to discuss chemically related issues affecting government, industry, and universities.
This workshop was organized by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable of BCST on the topic Water and Sustainable Development: Opportunities for the Chemical Sciences. The workshop brought together top experts in the area of water science and technology and leaders in chemistry and chemical engineering from government, industry, and academia. This interaction was intended to enhance the synergy between these two communities and help engage a broader cross section of the chemical sciences community in this important arena of science and technology. The workshop sessions provided technical background and explored enhanced roles that the chemical sciences R&D community might play in identifying and addressing the issues that make water a critical limiting factor in human economic development and sustainability. The goal of the workshop was to inform the Chemical Sciences Roundtable. In that process, it may also engage the broad chemical sciences community in addressing the question of how to ensure the adequate supply of water that is required for public health, sustainable agriculture and food security, energy generation, and economic growth.
Innovation, the process by which fundamental research becomes a commercial product, is increasingly important in the chemical sciences and is changing the nature of research and development (R&D) efforts in the United States. The workshop “Reducing the Time from Basic Research to Innovation in the Chemical Sciences” was held in response to pressures to speed the R&D process and to rapidly evolving patterns of interaction among industry, academe, and national laboratories. The aim of the workshop was to identify and discuss approaches that might speed the innovation process by which basic research leads to innovation.
The papers in this volume are the authors’ own versions of their presentations. The discussion comments were taken from a transcript of the workshop. In accordance with the policies of the CSR, the workshop did not attempt to establish any conclusions or recommendations about needs and future directions, focusing instead on issues identified by the speakers.
The topic of “Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work” was selected by the CSR in response to concerns in the chemical sciences community about diversity in chemistry and chemical engineering. There is general recognition that future success of the chemical enterprise will require the full participation of all demographic groups, but such participation has not been achieved. After years of discussions on this topic, a workshop was planned for March 2002.
The workshop on Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work brought together leaders in chemistry and chemical engineering from government, industry, academia, and the not-for-profit sector to gather information and explore approaches that would optimize participation by the full range of intellectual talent in the chemical workforce. Its primary focus was to expose the participants, primarily chemists and chemical engineers from all sectors, to examples of successful efforts to recruit and retain minorities—at the undergraduate level, in graduate programs, and in the chemical workforce. The focus was practical and realistic needs of institutions and opportunities for minorities in the chemical sciences. The workshop explored opportunities and challenges for transferring the prior successes into a variety of new settings in which those trained in the chemical sciences are employed.
Considerable international concerns exist about global climate change and its relationship to the growing use of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is released by chemical reactions that are employed to extract energy from fuels, and any regulatory policy limiting the amount of CO2 that could be released from sequestered sources or from energy-generating reactions will require substantial involvement of the chemical sciences and technology R&D community.
Much of the public debate has been focused on the question of whether global climate change is occurring and, if so, whether it is anthropogenic, but these questions were outside the scope of the workshop, which instead focused on the question of how to respond to a possible national policy of carbon management. Previous discussion of the latter topic has focused on technological, economic, and ecological aspects and on earth science challenges, but the fundamental science has received little attention. This workshop was designed to gather information that could inform the Chemical Sciences Roundtable in its discussions of possible roles that the chemical sciences community might play in identifying and addressing underlying chemical questions.
Women in the chemical workforce was identified as a workshop topic by the CSR in response to broad concerns in the chemical sciences community about underutilization of women in chemistry and chemical engineering. To provide a forum for exploring these concerns, a workshop was planned for May 2000.
The workshop, “Women in the Chemical Workforce,” gathered leaders in chemistry and chemical engineering from government, industry, and academia together with experts from the social sciences and from business to explore practical approaches to improving the effectiveness of employers from all sectors in hiring and enabling the success of female professionals in chemistry. I am grateful to those members of the roundtable who provided key assistance in identifying topics and people for the workshop. A special note of thanks goes to Dr. Jong-On Hahm of the National Research Council’s Committee on Women in Science and Engineering for her advice and assistance in organizing the workshop.
Graduate education in the chemical sciences was identified by the CSR as an area of broad interest to the chemical sciences community, which has expressed concern about how it should respond to evolving expectations for universities, both in education and research, and to changing patterns in professional employment of advanced degree holders—both in the short and long term. To provide a forum for exploring these concerns, an organizing committee was formed and a workshop was planned for December 1999.
The workshop, “Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences: Issues for the 21st Century,” brought together scientific leaders in government, industry, and academia to explore and discuss the various features of graduate education in chemical science and technology. Using case histories and their individual experiences, speakers examined the current status of graduate education in the chemical sciences, identified problems and opportunities, and discussed possible strategies for improving the system. The discussion was oriented toward the goal of generating graduates who are well prepared to advance the chemical sciences in academia, government, and industry in the next 5 to 10 years.
At its December 1997 and May 1998 meetings, the CSR identified the topic of research teams and partnerships as an area of broad interest in the chemical sciences community. To provide a forum for exploring this topic, an organizing committee was formed, and a workshop was planned for May 1999. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the circumstances under which research and development (R&D) teams and partnerships in the chemical sector are appropriate and successful. Issues put forward for discussion included examination of the goals of R&D teams and partnerships, the barriers to implementing them, their potential benefits, and the available methodologies for carrying them out. What are the key trends, how are collaborations changing as a result, and how are best practices evolving?
The workshop, “Research Teams and Partnerships: Trends in the Chemical Sciences,” brought together research scientists, managers, and technology transfer specialists from government, industry, and academia to discuss and explore the trends and potential impacts of partnerships and teams for the conduct of research in the chemical sciences.
At its second meeting in December 1997, the CSR identified the topic of information technology as an issue of increasing importance to all sectors of the chemical enterprise. As we rely increasingly on computers for obtaining, recording, communicating, and publishing the scientific data that enables progress in our discipline, it is correspondingly important that we consider the new and developing ways that this essential technology can be used effectively. At the same time, we must also consider the impact of the evolving technology on all sectors of our discipline and on the ways that these sectors interact.
To provide a forum for exploring this topic, an organizing committee was formed, and a workshop was planned for November 1998. The workshop, “The Impact of Advances in Computing and Communications Technologies on Chemical Science and Technology,” brought together research scientists and managers from government, industry, and academia to review and discuss the rapid changes in computer technology that are influencing activities in the chemical sciences.
At its first meeting in February 1997, the CSR identified the topic of assessing the value of research as an issue of increasing importance to all sectors of the chemical sciences. In a world with many needs and limited resources, it is important to find mechanisms to assess the value of various endeavors so that resources can be focused on those activities expected to yield the maximum benefit to humankind and society. These such endeavors include scientific research, long protected by its linkage to national security. But the very nature of scientific inquiry—its inherent complexity and interconnections, long lead times from discovery to demonstration, and focus on the unknown—poses formidable obstacles to developing a set of criteria for predetermining the value of research. To provide a forum for exploring this topic, an organizing committee was formed, and a workshop was planned for September 1997. The resulting workshop, “Assessing the Value of Research in the Chemical Sciences,” brought together research managers from government, industry, and academia to review and discuss the mechanisms that have been proposed or used to assess the value of chemical research.