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Dow Becomes First Global Partner of the International Year of Chemistry
1:44 PM MST | February 4, 2011 | By THERESA KOTANCHEK
By Theresa Kotanchek, Global Director of Sustainable Technologies
January 2011 marks the beginning of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), an initiative designated by the United Nations and co-led by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Under the theme “Chemistry – Our Life, Our Future,” IYC will consist of a year-long series of events, educational lectures, exhibits and experiments for people of all ages. ). Participants in IYC will be working to increase public appreciation of chemistry, encourage interest in chemistry among young people and generate enthusiasm for the creative future of the science. Dow is proud to be the first global partner of IYC and has committed to use its technology expertise and global network to support a range of activities that promote the role of chemistry in the advancement of human progress, environmental protection and economic development.
IYC presents a tremendous opportunity for the world to celebrate chemistry – both the science and the human aspects. Dow will foster international cooperation to advance chemistry as the solution provider for challenges such as energy, housing, health, food and nutrition, infrastructure and economic development. And these are truly world challenges. Having just returned to the U.S. after serving as the CTO of Dow Chemical (China) Company Limited, I can personally attest to the global interest in sustainably addressing these megatrends.
The year 2011 is a significant one to chemists as it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in chemistry to Madame Marie Curie, the first such recognized female chemist. This represents an opportunity to celebrate the significant history of women’s contributions to chemistry. Although we have made great strides in welcoming women to the field of chemistry and chemical sciences, it is still the case that only 33 percent of the physical sciences doctorates awarded in 2009 went to women. IYC gives us a chance to share with young women what it was that brought us to the field – and why it represents an exciting field of study for them as well.
The year also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies, succeeded by The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) a few years later, providing a chance to highlight international scientific collaboration.
In addition to direct financial support, Dow will support IYC at local, regional and national levels through a range of marquee engagements and ongoing activities such as It’s Elemental, a national student video contest. Organized by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, It’s Elemental will award 11 Dow-sponsored grants in the amount of $5,000 to high school science departments that produce the most educational and creative videos about the elements in the periodic table. Dow will also support IYC’s global cornerstone events, beginning with the International Year of Chemistry Opening Ceremony at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris January 27–28, 2011, where Andrew Liveris, our chairman and CEO, will be included among the keynote speakers.
Only through mutual collaboration can the power of chemistry create solutions that address essential human needs and solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. IYC is a tremendous global opportunity for chemical industry leaders to showcase the history, present innovations and promising future of our shared science.
Chemistry is often referred to as the Central Science because an understanding of the behavior of atoms, molecules and matter is crucial to an understanding of all aspects of our world. During the 2011 IYC celebrations, I challenge each and every one of you to remember what it was that drew you to chemistry in the first place – try to recall your “Aha!” moment, when you realized that chemistry, indeed offered the explanations you were seeking. Then, look to share that outside of your normal sphere of influence. Work with a scouting group, a local school or your community’s leaders to share the wonder we all felt when we chose chemistry as OUR field.