Credit to Peter Cutts

Rigoberto Hernandez

John Hopkins University, Gompf Family Professor of Chemistry

Candidate for ACS President-Elect, 2022


Why are you running for President-Elect?

I want to serve our members and our world in alignment with the objects of the ACS’s foundational documents. In my role as a Professor at Johns Hopkins, I have the opportunity to promote my students, advance knowledge and learn from my colleagues. As President, I will have the opportunity to learn from our members and the public, and to hopefully also enrich their lives.

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

To stay current with our members, we need to change in the ways they want and need. My platform items, ACS First, ACS for Life and ACS for All, set a course for directions along which change is needed. How we implement these changes will depend on how our members, working through our existing governance structures, shape it. (1) Through ACS First, I would like to ensure that our strategic planning and our communications align with the objective that we should be the first place our members and the public turn to when they need an answer to a chemistry question. (2) Our membership committees are already exploring new membership categories, and I believe that a life membership category will provide assurance to all of our members that once they are a chemist, they are always a chemist. Indeed, I hope that some of our members will gift life memberships to students upon graduation with a chemistry degree. (3) The ACS has already charted a path towards increasing diversity and inclusion. I hope to broaden and catalyze that directive during my tenure by promoting a diversity culture and championing belonging within that culture. The larger the number and diversity of our society by any metric, the stronger we will be.

These changes may seem incremental because they can be enacted through policy changes within our current governance structures. They are also paradigm shifting, however, because they set a course for a society that will welcome more chemists with increasingly varied experiences to help us learn and grow with an emphasis on in-person experiences at scale.


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

I have been involved in ACS leadership roles since 2018, when I started in the three-year succession as Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair of the Georgia Local Section while being an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech. Thereafter, I served as a Councilor from the Georgia Local Section for nine years (from 2003 to 2011), as bylaw Councilor in 2012, and as the District IV Director on the ACS Board of Directors (from 2014 to 2019). Within the Georgia Local Section, I served on and chaired the Herty Award Selection Committee, led the 75th Herty Celebration, and founded the Herty Medal Undergraduate Research Symposium. Within our national governance, I have served as a member of the Divisional Activities Committee, the Committee on Committees, the Budget & Finance Committee, and several task forces. I was the founding chair of the National Awards Advisory Board from 2018 to 2021.

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

I have supported younger chemists through numerous platforms past and present. Over several years, I was one of the featured speakers at the YCC Leadership Institute, where I was asked to provide mentoring on how to navigate one’s career pathway. I am active on Twitter as I find that it gives me an ear to the concerns of our younger members and a voice to provide possible solutions. Of course, younger chemists are the chemists of the future. I want to know what you need our society to be so that we can retain you because the strength of our society lies in our members. Thus my plan is to work closely with younger chemists, and YCC in particular, to ensure that your voice and needs guide the vision for our evolving structure.

Rigoberto Herandez