C&EN's Futures Festival

Editor’s Desk: Embracing the Future

Pivots from in-person events have impacted C&EN like any other team. Hear more about our plans from our editor in chief.

By Bibiana Campos Seijo

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Bibiana Campos Seijo C&EN advertising

by Bibiana Campos Seijo | Editor-in-Chief and VP of C&EN Media Group | @bibianaCampos


The C&EN team was disappointed earlier this year when the news came that the ACS National Spring meeting in Philadelphia had been cancelled due to the pandemic. For many of our reporters, the two annual meetings are highlights of the year, and like the marketers who attend and rely on in-person events to drive their business, we all really look forward to a few days of outstanding science, excellent networking opportunities and the chance to reconnect with old friends. At the time it was difficult to imagine that we would also be deprived of an in-person ACS National meeting in the Fall. 

But that’s where we are; we are living in unprecedented times. The ACS National Fall meeting will not happen in the traditional way and ACS will instead be offering a virtual meeting and exhibition from Aug 17-20.

What does that mean for the C&EN team?

2019’s National Meeting

Over the last few years, we have been increasing the number and types of events we host during the ACS national meetings. Attendees and advertisers often found us at our booth running games and other activities, or off-site exploring topics from an upcoming story or feature.

Now, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity from the fact that most of us are operating in a virtual environment, and bring our most popular programs under one umbrella in C&EN’s Futures Festival, a 2-day virtual event featuring the people, ideas, and discoveries that will shape the future of science.?

The event starts on Aug 25 and includes celebrated programs such as C&EN’s Talented 12, which is now in its 6th year and going strong.

During the T12 portion of the event, which is sponsored once again by Thermo Fisher Scientific, we will honor a dozen rising stars in the chemical sciences from around the globe who will present their ideas for solving our world’s challenges. (The 2020 class will be announced in our August 17th issue.) Harvard’s Stuart Schreiber will kick things off with straight-talk advice for the Talented 12 and others starting out their careers.

As part of the Futures Festival we will also host C&EN’s Trailblazers, a program we launched earlier this year that celebrates the diversity that drives chemistry forward. Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley, guest editor of the inaugural Trailblazers issue, will kick off the session, followed by a selection of the women entrepreneurs that were featured in C&EN

Other exciting sessions include a Power Hour hosted by C&EN in partnership with the Gordon Research Conferences. The Power Hour is a forum for conversations about the barriers to inclusivity in the sciences. This Fall, it will include a fireside chat with Pfizer’s Charlotte Allerton and Vanderbilt University’s Ren? Robinson. Incidentally, Robinson is a T12 alumna from the 2016 cohort and president elect of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. 

Being a two-day event, there’s more: For the inaugural edition of C&EN’s Futures Festival we have partnered with our colleagues at CAS, a division of ACS, and will showcase the talent of their Future Leaders program, an initiative that provides PhD students and postdoctoral scholars from around the world with opportunities to collaborate with CAS scientists, innovators, and business leaders to expand their professional networks and build connections.

We are also collaborating with our ACS Publications colleagues to celebrate the recipient of the recently launched ACS Central Science Disruptors & Innovators Prize. Carolyn Bertozzi, Editor in Chief of the journal, will introduce this year’s winner, Stanford University’s Zhenan Bao, who will reflect on the future of polymers, medical devices, and more.

We’ll close with a Q&A session where C&EN’s Lisa Jarvis will join Bertozzi, former Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellman, and leaders from academia and the pharmaceutical industry to discuss how they see the role of the chemical sciences changing and evolving over the next few years. 

We are delighted to have Thermo Fisher Scientific, Pfizer and MilliporeSigma as key sponsors of this exciting new event and are thankful for their support. Some, like Thermo Fisher Scientific, had been preparing for in-person versions of these events, and were ready to embrace the pivot to digital along with us. Others, like MilliporeSigma, joined to support an engaging virtual experience that will likely only become more commonplace. 

Registration is open, and we’re about the reveal the full program with the announcement of this year’s Talented 12 class, happening August 14th.

If you need to pivot your event marketing plans too, our advertising and marketing team is here to chat – whether it’s to share what we learned marketing our own programs during challenging times, or sponsorships we have available to help you better connect with your audience. Email us at cenmediagroup@acs.org.

We hope to see you at C&EN’s Futures Festival!


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