Message from the Chair

Greetings from snowy Philadelphia!

Judith Currano

As I attempted to write this, my first letter as chair of CINF, I found myself at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed.  Being an expert in chemical information retrieval, I immediately went to the CIB archive and read the letters of other new chairs.  I was treated to a series of fascinating perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing chemical information professionals and informaticians.  Some past chairs felt daunted by the challenges our profession faces, while others were excited.  While I would like to present you with an insightful and inspirational discourse on the future of our profession, I fear that I am a pragmatist who thrives on day-to-day operations and, most importantly, on structure (or, as anyone who has heard me speak at a national meeting can verify, on substructure). Therefore, allow me to present my view of the structure of our division.

Every structure needs a strong core, and ours is the wonderful network of chemical information professionals around the world.  My goal this year is actively to engage as many of you as possible in division activities so that we can learn from one another and build wonderful things together.  We all know that personal and professional time commitments, travel funding that is outstripped by the cost of attending meetings, and changing job priorities frequently prevent our members from attending as many national meetings as they might otherwise like.  We are not alone; according to the statistics quoted at the last several ACS Council meetings, only about 7-10% of the Society’s members attend each conference.  We need to continue to build opportunities for our members to network, share information, and become involved in CINF activities from their offices and places of work. CINF has been ahead of the curve on this; we were one of the first divisions to record national meeting symposia and offer them as a benefit to our members.  Now, ACS offers “Presentations on Demand,” recordings of a smattering of symposia across all of the divisions, as a benefit to all Society members.  The presentations will be posted after the meeting, and I encourage conference attendees and non-attendees, alike, to peruse them. Erin Bolstad and the Program Committee have done a fantastic job of generating ideas for interesting symposia, and I hope as many people as possible can take advantage of them.

The functional groups of our division are the CINF committees. This is where we do the day-to-day business of our division. This year, I would like you to join me in invigorating one of our committees by getting involved.  While some CINF committees do meet at national meetings, most are doing a great deal of work remotely, and you will be hearing from the committee chairs throughout the year as they recruit members, describe upcoming projects, and request your assistance, wherever you happen to be.  I am particularly pleased to be working closely with the Membership and Careers Committees, (headed by Greg Banik/Donna Wrublewski and Susan Cardinal/Pamela Scott, respectively) to serve you, our members, and to highlight the kinds of work that you do to the rest of the Society.

I already know many of you, but I don’t know everyone, and I’d love to change that.  While national meetings serve as one of many opportunities for us to come together as a division and discuss our science, I found that I learned a great deal from a geographically diverse collection of CINF colleagues long before I had ever attended one.  During the coming year, let us continue to explore innovative, “non-traditional” methods of networking and exchanging ideas. I want to learn what kinds of research and work you do and hear first-hand what excites you about our profession and why you value your CINF membership.  Finally, let us work together to extend CINF’s programming activities beyond the national meetings by offering programs at the regional and local level, partnering with sister organizations, and continuing our Webinar series.  If you are aware of any opportunities, please let me know!  Although you may not have access to my office door, my e-mail inbox is always open!

Wishing you the best,

Judith Currano,
Chair, ACS Division of Chemical Information,
currano@pobox.upenn.edu