Florian Schattenmann

Cargill, CTO and VP for Innovation and Research & Development

Candidate for ACS President-Elect, 2024


Why are you running for President-Elect?

I believe the future of ACS is strong. And to shape future generations of chemists and industry, we need a positive and dynamic spokesperson and heightened member engagement (especially for industrial sectors). Leading and energizing large, modern, scientific organizations and creating extensive media exposure are two of my core strengths!

What are some of the most important changes you would like to enact during your ACS Presidency?

My top focus area is to facilitate a stronger and more collaborative ecosystem across academia, industry, and government.  From curiosity-driven research to final applications: we need each other more than ever! This will make ACS more relevant for industrial members again, whom ACS has been losing to the tune of 2,000 members/year. That has started to create an unsustainable imbalance as companies will be less inclined to support and sponsor if this trend continues. The industrial sector has been in an accelerated period of change with traditional companies frequently overhauling their business portfolios amid an emerging and thriving startup eco-system. I am living this changing environment and I know how to energize and engage!

I also want to highlight the other two areas of my platform: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Respect (DEIR) and sustainability. Both are areas where chemistry and chemical companies need to do better. My wife was the first African American chemist to get a PhD in inorganic chemistry from MIT.  I've observed that things were harder for her and can't believe we haven't made bigger strides. We really must raise expectations. And, as I’ve shared before – sustainability is the defining issue of our time. We need to lean into sustainability with a special focus on building closer partnership between the chemical and life science communities. I will lean into ACS efforts like the CTO Summits, where ideas are shared freely and want to work with you on other new initiatives.

How long have you served in ACS leadership and in what capacity(ies)? 

I served on the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division Executive Committee from 2004-06 and the ACS National Award Committee 2005-06 until I was sent overseas on an expatriate assignment in the summer of 2006. After my return to the US, I have been engaging with the ACS like many members do by attending national meetings for its strong scientific programs, giving research talks and networking with my chemical colleagues. I reengaged with the ACS more formally by serving on the ACS National Award Committee (2020-22) and as an active member of the CTO leadership forum (2020-), which brings the R&D leaders of major chemical companies together to address big challenges and opportunities in the chemical enterprise.

My strengths as a candidate for President-Elect of ACS lie in my current experience in executive leadership and governance (on company and academic boards), bringing new ideas to the table, and leveraging current executive connections into industry, academia and government. Most importantly, you will get a passionate and enthusiastic spokesperson and cheerleader that will tell our exciting chemistry story!

How do you plan to work with younger chemists during your time as President?

Young chemists are the future for ACS, but also for the chemical enterprise overall.  The same is true in large multinational companies such as Cargill.  That is the reason why I engage with our young professional network at Cargill and mentor young chemists in my current role as CTO of Cargill.  So, getting the input and understanding the pain points from younger chemists in the ACS will be critical as career paths and options have become much more complex.  On the flip side, the range of options has also broadened, which results in many new opportunities, but requires new skills and especially networking opportunities.  I can very much relate working in my sixth company across multiple industries.

I would also engage younger chemists to actively help with supporting key initiatives, and I will be a visible champion for YCC activities by showing up at key events, engaging with YCC members and taking some of the presidential funds to support.  The energy that the younger chemists bring to the ACS is huge!  It is fair to say that the YCC social at Black Hammer Brewing during the fall national meeting was the single most fun event I attended during the entire ACS national meeting!

Florian Schattenmann