by Jessica Driscoll
Northeastern University’s own Dr. Thomas R. Gilbert, an associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology, was recently elected to the American Chemical Society Board of Directors. He will serve as the director for District I, which includes New England, New York, and parts of Pennsylvania.
Gilbert, whose research focus at Northeastern is chemical and science education, has been a member of the ACS since 1968, and has served in various capacities including chair of the Northeastern Local Section (which includes eastern Massachusetts and all of New Hampshire). He has represented the Section on the ACS Council since 1989 and was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2011.
Gilbert’s research interests include developing instructional materials and pedagogical strategies that provide non-chemical contexts for introducing the principles of chemistry and its centrality among the sciences. He was the principal investigator of a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program which supported several Northeastern students pursuing graduate degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering who assisted teachers in nearby middle and high schools. He has published 45 journal articles, holds three patents, and is the senior author of a chemistry textbook now in its 3rd edition.
In his campaign for the ACS Board, Gilbert promised to support programs that expand awareness of the benefits of membership and increase the frequency with which members connect to the society. He suggested that the ACS should do more to advocate for corporate and public funding of basic research and to support members in creating their own jobs through ACS’s Entrepreneurial Initiative and through grassroots efforts by local sections that support the launch of and sustain small chemical businesses.
Gilbert also advised that a key role for the ACS should be to provide graduate educational guidelines that help develop a workforce of molecular scientists with the knowledge and skills needed in emerging and growing sectors of the economy. He said in his campaign statement “The interdisciplinary nature of many jobs in today’s chemical enterprise needs to be reflected in how chemical professionals are trained. This includes professional science master’s (PSM) degrees that prepare students for careers in targeted industries. I served as the academic director of three biotech PSMs with tracks in pharmaceutical science, analytical biotechnology, and process development, and helped launch a fourth in biopharmaceutical regulatory science. All include industrial internships and address critical workforce needs in a manufacturing sector that is expanding at a time when others are reducing the number of chemical professionals they employ.”
Gilbert has served as an associate professor at Northeastern since 1985, as well as Associate Director for Academic Affairs of the School of Education from1999 through 2004. He was Interim Dean of the school from 2004 through 2006, and Academic Director of Biotechnology Programs from 2009 to 2011.