Joseph A. Heppert
Member, Wakarusa Valley Local Section
2021 ACS Board Candidate, District V
Get to Know Joe
Dr. Joseph A. Heppert is currently Vice President for Research & Innovation at Texas Tech University (TTU). Previously, he served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Kansas (KU), Chair of the KU Chemistry Department, and Founding Director of KU's Center for Science Education. Joe has a B.S. in Chemistry from San Jose State University, a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he completed postdoctoral training at Indiana University. His initial research focused on organo transition metal chemistry. This research resulted in the isolation and characterization of the first class of air stable terminal transition metal carbide compounds.
Recognized as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2012, Joe has been a proud ACS member since 1979 and has served the Society in various positions throughout the years. He has served as an ACS Councilor from 1996 to 2019, an ex-officio member of the Council Policy Committee from 2004 to 2006, a member of the Program Review Advisory Group from 2005 to 2006, a member of the Governance Review Team A from 2006 to 2007, and a member of the President's Task Force on Competitiveness from 2007 to 2008. His commitment to excellence in science education is made evident through his long-standing service to the ACS Committee on Education as an associate from 2000 to 2001, a member from 2002 to 2010, and as chair from 2004 to 2006, as well as through his service on the ACS Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition's National Advisory Board from 2011 to 2015. While chair of the ACS Committee on Education, he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science and the National Science Board on science education policy issues. He also served as a member of the Society Committee on Education Working Group on the Future of Chemical Education in the fall of 2008 and a member of the ACS Joint Board President's Task Force on Education in the spring of 2009 and 2010.
Joe has also demonstrated his commitment to preserving the fiscal health of ACS through his service on the Society Committee on Budget and Finance as an associate member from 2011 to 2012, a member from 2013 to present, as vice chair from 2014 to 2016, as chair of the Subcommittee on Program Funding Requests from 2015 to 2016, and as chair from 2017 to 2019. He has also served on the Task Force on Program Valuation and Metrics (2013 – 2014), the National Awards Committee #1 (2014 – 2016), the National Awards Committee #2 (2015 – 2018), the President's Working Group on Public Access and Diversity (2017 – 2018), and as a trustee of the ACS Member Insurance Program (2020 – Present).
It is a great honor to be nominated as a candidate for the ACS Board of Directors representing District V. This honor is heightened by the accomplishments of my competitor who has devoted many years of service and leadership for the Society and the profession.
All chemists can be proud of the work we accomplish through ACS. ACS is acknowledged as one of the world's leading professional scientific societies. Our ACS benefits include access to scholarly information, education, professional activities and employment, and fellowship with likeminded chemical scientists. ACS has historically done a remarkable job responding to the needs of the chemical profession. While I firmly believe we need to continue to faithfully serve the needs of existing members, the Society also must evolve to become even more effective at attracting, training, and retaining new generations of chemical scientists.
Over the past 75 years, the international chemical industry, led by U.S. chemical innovation, has ushered the world into a healthier, more prosperous, and more environmentally conscious era. Chemical industries have long been a key strength of the U.S. economy. The erosion of this mainstay of economic prosperity accounts for many of our concerns about sustaining membership in the Society, maintaining the vitality of domestic chemical businesses, and preserving the economic standing of our nation in the global community. ACS members know that chemical innovation must continue to play a central role in driving U.S. competitiveness. So, we need to continue to advocate for government and private sector support for chemical research and entrepreneurship.
Degrees in chemistry provide an excellent foundation for career paths in chemical sciences, as well as in business, teaching, and government service. The Society needs to ensure that graduate and undergraduate students are prepared for the rapidly changing environment of high technology employment. With the increasing cross-disciplinary nature of the workforce, chemists need tools and experiences that equip them to collaborate with professionals in other disciplines. Undergraduate students need expanded access to cutting-edge research at chemistry's disciplinary interfaces. Furthermore, all students should have the opportunity to explore complementary scientific career paths, including work in public policy formation, and experiences in innovation and entrepreneurship.
At this point in our nation's history, it is essential that the Society become an even more ardent advocate for, and leader in, increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce, and increasing inclusivity and equity in our scientific and professional institutions. ACS programs; including Project Seed, ACS Scholars, and local section outreach; are working to increase the diversity of student populations studying in STEM fields. We must re-double our efforts in these areas. The Society can play an increased role in advocating for federal, state and local programs to enhance STEM education and outreach, bringing the wonder of the chemical sciences to ALL students in our nation. This goal is an unfulfilled dream, initiated, in part, by the recommendations of two major National Academy Commission reports during the 2000's. ACS can promote and recognize local section engagement in innovative activities and programs that promote broad excellence in K-12 education, community outreach and engagement, and the success of students from minoritized and under-served populations. It is essential that the Society advocate for major federal, private sector, and philanthropic investment to place the nation back on track to fulfill this vision.
We have also witnessed a continuing world-wide trend to discount the role of scientific knowledge in the creation of sound international policy, and in extreme cases, distort scientific fact to sow doubt in public institutions. This trend has led to policy formation that has profound impacts on global health and quality of life, the vitality of the world economy, and the security of our nation. As our Society always has, we must remain a consistent voice for the consideration of factual scientific information as a basis for establishing national priorities. We as ACS members must also speak out for the long-term national investments in scientific and technological education, research and development, and technology-based industry required to secure sustained access to high-paying jobs and economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and national security. As the U.S. government appears to be poised to make generational investments in education, infrastructure, and scientific research, we need to be a passionate advocate for programs that will have a lasting impact on national technological competitiveness and provide sustained benefit to human and environmental well-being.
ACS remains the world's premier source of chemical science knowledge, an important value proposition for our membership. Recent changes in ACS publications and information services have been very popular among academic and industry client bases. As the Society considers strategies for retaining younger scientists, we need to examine how these individuals access and consume scientific information, and adapt Society programs to support this critical segment of our future membership.
If elected as a Director from District V, I will work with ACS members and other members of the Board to support Society policies, practices, and programs to address these and other questions of importance to ACS members.