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How to Achieve These Goals

U.S. prosperity depends on high technology, and much of that depends on chemical expertise. For most of the past decade, the chemical industry has been one of the few U.S. manufacturing industries to have a positive balance of trade. Indeed, the chemical process industries, which perform chemical transformations in the course of manufacturing their products, are as much as one-third of the entire U.S. manufacturing sector in terms of value added. The scope of the chemical sciences endeavor is vast, contributing far beyond the traditional aspects of chemistry and chemical engineering. As a consequence, opportunities for fundamental and creative science—and major contributions to technology and society—will remain in the hands of chemical scientists for a long time. New fundamental chemical insights will increase our scientific understanding, and the practical importance of future discoveries will have enormous potential. These new discoveries—medicines to cure and prevent diseases, solutions to meet our energy needs, paradigm shifts in electronic materials, increased industrial sustainability, and protection from terrorist attacks—all require the efforts of chemists and chemical engineers. The health and well-being of the chemical enterprise will directly affect the health and well-being of our nation and its economy.1

If these achievements are to occur, however, it will not be by the work of chemists and chemical engineers acting alone. Many parts of society and experts in other areas of science and technology will be partners with chemists and chemi-

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Chemical & Engineering News, 78 (41), 60-61, 2000; Chemical & Engineering News, 79 (46), 38-39, 2001; Chemistry Today and Tomorrow: The Central, Useful, and Creative Science, Ronald Breslow, American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., 1997.



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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering 12 How to Achieve These Goals U.S. prosperity depends on high technology, and much of that depends on chemical expertise. For most of the past decade, the chemical industry has been one of the few U.S. manufacturing industries to have a positive balance of trade. Indeed, the chemical process industries, which perform chemical transformations in the course of manufacturing their products, are as much as one-third of the entire U.S. manufacturing sector in terms of value added. The scope of the chemical sciences endeavor is vast, contributing far beyond the traditional aspects of chemistry and chemical engineering. As a consequence, opportunities for fundamental and creative science—and major contributions to technology and society—will remain in the hands of chemical scientists for a long time. New fundamental chemical insights will increase our scientific understanding, and the practical importance of future discoveries will have enormous potential. These new discoveries—medicines to cure and prevent diseases, solutions to meet our energy needs, paradigm shifts in electronic materials, increased industrial sustainability, and protection from terrorist attacks—all require the efforts of chemists and chemical engineers. The health and well-being of the chemical enterprise will directly affect the health and well-being of our nation and its economy.1 If these achievements are to occur, however, it will not be by the work of chemists and chemical engineers acting alone. Many parts of society and experts in other areas of science and technology will be partners with chemists and chemi- 1   Chemical & Engineering News, 78 (41), 60-61, 2000; Chemical & Engineering News, 79 (46), 38-39, 2001; Chemistry Today and Tomorrow: The Central, Useful, and Creative Science, Ronald Breslow, American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., 1997.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering cal engineers if the chemical sciences are to achieve solutions to all these challenges. The following section suggests opportunities for the path forward. CHEMISTS AND CHEMICAL ENGINEERS The Practice of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Future research for chemical scientists will increasingly involve working in multidisciplinary teams. This means not just analytical chemists with inorganic chemists or chemists with chemical engineers, but chemical scientists working with physicists and electrical engineers to develop electronic materials and devices, chemical scientists working with biologists and physicians in the development of medicines and the understanding of life processes, chemical engineers working with physicians to develop artificial materials and organs for the body, and chemical scientists working with business leaders and resource managers to develop sustainable and profitable processes for our world. The need for multidisciplinary teams to understand the fundamental science of the future as well as to address the technical challenges ahead will require a shift in the way we train graduate students, award tenure, and fund research. It is desirable that graduate students be involved in projects that include other disciplines, and their classwork should involve a broader array of subjects than just their primary specialty. Tenure has traditionally been built upon individual research. Perhaps a demonstrated ability to collaborate with those in other disciplines should be considered a strong asset for tenure. To truly foster collaborative research, funding agencies need to provide awards that are larger than the present awards that are expected to fund only one principal investigator. Besides doing multidisciplinary research, chemical scientists in the coming years will need to team with those from other sectors. Government and academe need to work together in order to most effectively solve the problems facing the nation in homeland defense and security. Industry and academia need to work together to enhance the transfer of technology to the marketplace and to keep academe in touch with the needs of industry. Government and industry need to team to better address the problems they face together.2 The Training of Chemists and Chemical Engineers As in any reexamination of the field, chemists and chemical engineers should ask serious questions about current practices. Does the divisional structure in academic chemistry departments discourage multi-investigator research, or encourage artificial distinctions? Are the traditional divisions still the best structure 2   Research Teams and Partnerships: Trends in the Chemical Sciences, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering for educating students or do these divisions encourage narrowness? Is it reasonable that the traditional education of chemists involves no contact with the field of chemical engineering? Since most chemical engineers are no longer doing research in areas related to the undergraduate classes that they teach, what does that imply about the need for changing the chemical engineering curriculum? These are all areas that will be debated and acted on in the near future.3 Regarding undergraduate education, most students are exposed to chemistry courses because they are considering careers in the health sciences. These introductory courses are an opportunity and responsibility to convey the excitement of the chemical sciences. There are three basic types of students who might take chemistry in an undergraduate setting: One is the chemistry major, one is a science major, and one is a nonscience student. Only about 10 percent or fewer students in the first-year chemistry class will go on to become professional chemists or chemical engineers.4 Clearly introductory courses must include certain material to build the foundation for advanced work, but this does not mean that the wonder and excitement of chemistry cannot be emphasized. Basic science curricula needs to be developed for non-science undergraduate students. Chemists and chemical engineers should take the lead in collaborating with their scientific colleagues to develop a comprehensive science and technology course to enhance the understanding by non-scientists of the scientific method and the wonder and value of science. It is necessary for scientists and engineers to define the minimum amount of science an educated person with a bachelor’s degree in any field should have. In both chemistry and chemical engineering, greater opportunity and encouragement needs to be given for undergraduates to have a research experience. This needs to be offered through the universities, through programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, through cooperative education programs and summer opportunities at government laboratories. Chemical scientists must communicate more effectively with other sectors of society, technical and nontechnical alike, beyond the chemical science community. They must put their discoveries and their goals into words that make sense to nonchemists. It cannot be assumed that everyone will recognize that “aromatic” might not refer to odor or that a “reaction” might be something other than the response to a surprise. Chemists and chemical engineers must describe to the media what is important in chemistry. We should recognize the journalist’s need for news that the public can understand and the opportunity that this represents to transmit important contributions of the chemical sciences. Perhaps most important, chemical scientists must communicate more effectively with their elected representatives and other government officials. The unified field of chemistry 3   Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences: Issues for the 21st Century, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2000. 4   Chemical & Engineering News, 79 (31), 5, 2001

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering TABLE 12-1 Full-time Graduate Students in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.a Field 1993 2000 Chemistry 17,204 15,707 Chemical Engineering 6,079 5,865 aData from Federal Investment in R&D, E. Eiseman, K. Koizumi, and D. Fossum, RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute, Arlington, VA, 2002 (Table 17), p. 99. and chemical engineering has an exciting story to tell, with intellectual excitement and practical applications that are critical to modern civilization. The story must be told to those whose decisions affect the resources needed to solve the challenges that are outlined in this report. These goals in the realm of communication constitute a serious challenge to chemical scientists and engineers—to accept an enhanced commitment to professional responsibility and involvement that would provide enormous benefit to their field. Chemists and chemical engineers can broaden their perceptions and interactions; one goal of this joint report is to facilitate movement in this direction. Name changes in both chemistry and chemical engineering departments have reflected this progression in recent years. Chemical scientists can work to mutual benefit with experts from many other areas—electrical engineers, pharmacologists, materials scientists, and solid-state physicists to name just a few. The pool of chemists and engineers must be expanded by attracting more women and minorities5 to the fields that chemical scientists find so rewarding and exciting, as we discuss further in the next section. We must examine our current practices and beliefs to see how to fully tap the talents of all members of our society. U.S. chemistry and chemical engineering benefit from the immigration of individuals with the needed skills who have been trained both here and in other countries. However, the challenges are so great, and the demand for talent so large, that it is important to attract more of the brightest American students into these fields. Despite the needs of our technological society for chemists and chemical engineers (see below), graduate school enrollments in the United States have declined a bit over the last decade (Table 12-1). Chemists and chemical engineers will need to be active ambassadors for their fields by recruiting new students and describing the satisfaction and rewards of a life on the frontier—in this case the molecular frontier. This will require visits to schools to talk about the careers and opportunities. It is critical that such 5   For background information on these chemical workforce issues see: Women in the Chemical Workforce, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2000; Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work, National Research Council, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering visits include students in the entire range from kindergarten through high school. Students need to learn early that there are exciting things to do in creative science, including in particular the chemical sciences, and that they could play a role in inventing solutions to the challenges that humanity faces. Many students have never met a chemist or chemical engineer, and it may be essential to see that they do. Finally, chemists and chemical engineers must accept the important challenges that they alone can meet. Some of the challenges are described in this report, but the chemical sciences community must continuously expand the list— and always stand ready to accept new ideas and meet new goals. Some of the most exciting advances in science have come from basic scientific exploration, so we must continue to encourage those who simply want to expand the frontiers of fundamental understanding. EDUCATORS As mentioned above, it is important to convey the excitement of the chemical sciences to students. Science is about discovery, but chemistry and chemical engineering also extend to invention. Showing students how data can be used to make a scientific deduction gives more of a flavor of the science than does simply learning a set of facts about the science. For example, students can gain real contact with primary scientific data and its interpretation if they are asked to look at an NMR spectrum of a compound and deduce its structure. Asking them to invent an experiment that will answer a chemical question can also be stimulating. Asking them how they could synthesize a given compound makes them use their knowledge in a creative way. Some of this can be done in standard lecture and laboratory courses, but it is also important to encourage creativity by promoting science fairs in which high school students can compete by entering their own research projects. Educators should take advantage of the availability of professional chemists and chemical engineers, who can speak to the students either in class or in some special forum. Contact with practicing scientists can help students put a human face on a possible future career. It is especially important that women and minority scientists also play a role in such outreach to students, to show that indeed the profession welcomes all with the talent to contribute. Some of this effort should be directed toward the early parts of K-12 education. The future of the chemical sciences may depend on the ability of educators to convince young students that “it’s cool to be excited by chemistry.” THE MEDIA Chemistry is to a large extent invisible in newspapers, news magazines, television, and radio. If the message from chemists and chemical engineers is so

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering exciting, why is it not a focus of media attention? Part of the reason is the tendency of chemical scientists to present their work in such a complex and technical way that it does not translate readily to a general format. Some argue that chemical results are too complicated to present to the public—but that does not seem to inhibit those working in physics, biology, and astronomy, where news coverage of new discoveries seems much more common. Consequently, the challenge is clear. Chemists and chemical engineers must become more proficient in their communication skills—particularly in their interactions with the journalists who will write the final stories. The goals and achievements of chemistry and chemical engineering—in basic science and in meeting human needs—provide ample justification for efforts to work with the media. As described in this report, the role of chemistry and chemical engineering in modern society is both important and central. It is therefore essential that this message be made clear to the public, to decision makers, and to opinion leaders. As an example, when a new medicine or electronics breakthrough is announced, credit is usually given to those who carried out the last steps—the physicians who tested the drug that was invented by chemists, or the electronics experts who assembled the chemical science and engineering advances into the final version of a chip. As a result, the chemical scientists with responsibility for the original invention may not receive any credit whatsoever, and the public may not recognize that chemists and chemical engineers made essential contributions. Chemical scientists and their professional organizations will need to work with media experts if such patterns are to be changed. THE GENERAL PUBLIC If chemical scientists are to be successful in their efforts to improve the educational experience of their students, they will need help from the public. One step is to assure that there is a general understanding of the ways that chemistry is central to understanding life itself, and to providing the medicines, products, modern materials, and processes that support human needs. But the necessary second step is to enlist the public’s support—to have them approve of students’ desires to enter the chemical sciences and contribute to its goals and challenges. If parents encourage their sons and daughters to take up such careers, and if the public encourages financial support for research and education in chemistry and chemical engineering, then progress can be expected. In a recent poll of the general public conducted by the American Chemical Society,6 chemistry as a career option was ranked third in a list of eight scientific professions, and chemists scored high as visionary, innovative, and results-oriented. Also, 59% said that chemicals made their lives better. These results sug- 6   Chemical & Engineering News, 78, 41, 60-61, 2000.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering TABLE 12-2 Doctoral Scientists and Engineers Employed in the United States in 1999.a Field Subfield Number Employed Physical Sciences     110,300   Chemistry 55,810   Engineering     95,890   Chemical Engineering 12,520   Total   68,330 206,190 aData from Federal Investment in R&D, E. Eiseman, K. Koizumi, and D. Fossum, RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute, Arlington, VA, 2002 (Table 23), p. 107. gest that the public would indeed endorse the goals suggested here for enhancing the infrastructure for education and research in the chemical sciences. GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE FOUNDATIONS Research and education go hand in hand in chemistry and chemical engineering. While it is possible to teach students about the chemistry of the past by lectures alone, participation in research gives them a chance to learn what science really is, and to engage their creative and critical imaginations. In this way, the support of research directly contributes to the education of chemical scientists. It can also provide those students who want to go into other fields—law, business, government—with a real understanding of the basic and applied work in chemistry and chemical engineering. The unemployment rate for chemists has remained low during the past few years,7 reaching only the normal rate (2%) for people who are moving from one job to another. Of course, this low unemployment rate can and does rise to some extent in periods when the economy is weak, but chemistry and chemical engineering have a huge advantage over many other disciplines. There is a very large industry that uses chemistry to produce its products, so the opportunities for those who are chemically trained include industrial jobs—not just the academic jobs that some other disciplines have as their only option. Indeed, about two-thirds of the members of the American Chemical Society work in chemically related industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2000, employment in the United States included more than 92,000 chemists and materials scientists, 73,000 chemical technicians, and 33,000 chemical engineers.8 Table 12-2 shows that 7   Chemical & Engineering News, 79, 46, 38-39, 2001. 8   U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2002-03 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering chemists comprised just over fifty percent of the doctoral level physical scientists in the U.S. workforce in 1999, while chemists and chemical engineers together made up approximately one-third of all the doctoral-level physical scientists and engineers. The basic research in our fields is now done largely in universities. It can have incredibly important practical results, but those results cannot normally be predicted in advance. Who would have thought that the basic study of induced energy emission from excited states of atoms and molecules that led to the laser would wind up giving us a better way to record music, or read supermarket prices? Would a music company have funded that research? Who would have thought that our increased understanding of the chemistry of life would have led to the creation of biotechnology as an entirely new industry? The industry that benefited from the basic research could not have funded it, since it did not yet exist. U.S. companies swiftly use the new leads from basic research in U.S. universities, in part because they have good contacts, and in part because they hire students or even faculty who have played a role in creating that basic knowledge. However, support of the research itself is mainly the function of the federal government, and to a lesser extent of private foundations. A recent study carried out by the Council for Chemical Research finds that on average, every $1 invested in chemical R&D today produces $2 in corporate operating income over six years— an average annual return of 17% after taxes.9 The study also reports a strong linkage of industrial patents to publicly funded academic research. Federal agencies have been the major supporters of research and education in the chemical sciences. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide very important support to health-related science in universities, including health-related chemistry and chemical engineering. This support has been directed to basic science as well as to more applied studies. Thus NIH has supported the basic work to understand the chemistry of proteins and of nucleic acids, fundamental building blocks of living systems. To assure continued support by the NIH, it is important that the health relevance of chemistry and chemical engineering be clearly and explicitly recognized. After all, chemistry underlies the understanding of the basic processes of life, as was described in Chapter 7. Also, the pharmaceutical industry, agriculture, and sanitation are the three principal contributors to human health, and all three are heavily based on chemistry. Chemists and chemical engineers constitute a large fraction of the scientists doing research in pharmaceutical companies, inventing the medicines and the processes for manufacturing them. Their education and training in U.S. universities is possible only with adequate support by the NIH, support with both research grants and training grants. 9   Measuring Up: Research & Development Counts in the Chemical Industry, Council for Chemical Research, Washington, D.C., 2000; http://www.ccrhq.org/news/studyindex.html.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering TABLE 12-3 Federal Funding for Research in Science and Engineering (Millions of 2000 Dollars)a Field 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 Total, all S&E 18,104 18,606 22,141 23,467 26,860 31,005 38,471 Physical sciences, total 3,496 3,032 3,819 4,431 4,731 4,665 4,788 Chemistry 841 790 868 946 946 942 1,226 Engineering, total 5,687 4,749 5,403 5,262 5,250 6,224 6,346 Chemical Engineering 404 232 184 370 301 268 197 aData from Federal Investment in R&D, E. Eiseman, K. Koizumi, and D. Fossum, RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute, Arlington, VA, 2002 (Table 13), p. 89. The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides support to all the basic sciences and engineering in universities. NSF support of chemistry is very important, both the support directed to fundamental research initiated by individual investigators and the research done in research centers such as those aimed at developing new materials or at understanding and improving the environment. The support is critical, but more is needed for the chemistry division of NSF to achieve its objectives.10 Considering the importance of basic and applied chemistry and chemical engineering to the economic future of the United States, it seems that an increase in the ability of NSF to support fundamental and applied chemical science is warranted. The Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all help support fundamental and applied chemistry and chemical engineering. Their support is fully justified, as previous sections of this report make clear. The Department of Agriculture (DOA) also has a program of external support for chemistry and chemical engineering in universities, in line with the role that chemistry and chemical engineering play in agriculture. Table 12-3 summarizes federal funding for research in the physical sciences and engineering over the last several decades. The numbers are reported in constant dollars to facilitate comparisons across different years while minimizing the effects of inflation. While there has been an overall steady increase in federal support since 1970, the support for chemistry has lagged considerably behind the overall trend, and the support for chemical engineering has actually decreased. Strong support for chemistry and chemical engineering in the future will be essential for scientific and technical progress—both to facilitate new discoveries and to provide the technical workforce that will be needed to sustain the U.S. economy. 10   Chemical & Engineering News, 80, 42, 37-39, 2002.

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering There is another way that federal government officials could provide support for the conclusions of this report—endorse the importance of the challenges and goals that it describes. The federal government has a clear stake in supporting enhanced education and training of chemical scientists and in encouraging recruitment of more U.S. students to these fields. The major role of the chemical industry emphasizes how the economic future of the United States depends on continued scientific excellence in chemistry and chemical engineering. Many private foundations have agendas that are somewhat narrowly focused—for example, on a disease such as cancer. They often recognize the role that chemical scientists play in understanding the basic biology of the disease and in inventing medicines for treatment or procedures for delivering such medicines. Although their funding cannot replace federal support, the special programs they create are valuable as support for research and education. Other foundations provide extremely valuable support for young chemical scientists at the early stages of their careers—when their records of accomplishment may not yet be adequate to let them compete successfully for federal funding. INDUSTRY The chemical industry is involved with all parts of the chemical sciences. U.S. companies hire university graduates, carry out R&D programs, engage in joint efforts with universities and national laboratories, and generate ideas that stimulate further research in the academic arena. Consequently, it is of central importance to the chemical industry that the health of chemistry and chemical engineering be maintained. There are many ways that U.S. companies can help. One is to continue the demonstrated progress in environmentally benign manufacturing as exemplified by the Responsible Care program. Past practices that led to well-publicized problems are now recognized, changes have been implemented, and improvements continue to be made. The more chemistry-based industry can improve its public reputation, the better the consequences for chemists and chemical engineers. When a new medicine is announced, it is important that companies publicly recognize the chemistry that went into its creation and the chemical engineering that went into the manufacturing process. When other valuable new products are introduced, companies should not be afraid to describe the contribution of chemical scientists. The negative public reactions from past problems with chemical manufacturing have led some companies to nearly hide the fact that they do chemistry. But if chemical companies can discuss behavior of which they are proud, they may be willing to assert that they indeed do chemistry, and do it well. Pretending otherwise demeans the entire profession and the incredible contributions that it makes. There is a serious problem with public perception that the chemical industry needs to correct. In a survey of 1,012 U.S. adults commissioned by the American

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Chemical Society (see above) only 43% had a favorable opinion of the chemical industry. It was ranked lowest among a list of 10 industries, and only 1 in 10 respondents felt very well informed about the role of chemicals in improving human health. The situation is not appreciably better elsewhere. In Canada only 40% of adults in a 1999 survey had a favorable view of the chemical industry, and only 18% felt that the industry was excellent or good at being honest. A survey of 9,000 Western European citizens by the European Chemical Industry Council showed that only 45% had a favorable view of the chemical industry. There is still a lot of work to do to change these opinions and perceptions. Chemistry departments and chemical engineering departments in universities need more help from industry. After all, companies need both the research advances and the trained people that universities produce. At one time these companies provided significant support, for example in the form of fellowships for Ph.D. students. As research support shifted to the federal government in the second half of the 20th century, many of these industrial programs disappeared. They are now needed again, especially in the form of graduate fellowships, as some of the federal fellowship programs have been terminated. As industrial R&D moves forward in an increasingly interdisciplinary fashion, it will be important for the chemical industry to recognize this trend in its hiring procedures. If interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work is to be encouraged, industry will need to seek and hire people who have worked at the intersections of chemistry and chemical engineering with biology, physics, and other sciences. GRAND CHALLENGES This report has summarized the contributions that chemical science and engineering have already made to human welfare and to economic strength. It has focused to some extent on these contributions to the United States, but in truth all of humanity benefits from advances in medicines, in a better environment, in energy production and distribution, in materials production, information science, and national security. On the one hand, this report draws attention to the rich intellectual challenge of understanding our world through the chemical sciences. On the other hand, it points out the very close connection between basic research and useful applications in the chemical sciences. Basic science creates opportunities for exciting practical advances, but work to solve practical problems often stimulates enquiry into new areas of basic science. Thus, the connections among all aspects of chemistry and chemical engineering are strong and important. There is still much to be done. In every chapter of this report some of the remaining challenges for the field are described, together with the importance of meeting those challenges. In addition, some especially exciting challenges start each chapter. Chemistry and chemical engineering are very diverse fields, which do not focus on only one or two central problems. This is in part their strength,

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering since it means that they can make contributions to wide areas of human understanding and human welfare. At the same time, it is a problem because great advances can be made in one area without necessarily revolutionizing the entire field. Some of the challenges are specific, but others are quite broad, with potential impact well beyond the chemical sciences. These are listed here as some overriding themes, described as grand challenges—they are broad opportunities that if met could have huge benefits to society. While they are goals not yet reached, we propose that they can be realistically addressed with the new and developing strengths in theories and procedures in the chemical sciences. As we continue to push forward the frontiers of science, we will increasingly do so by working with our colleagues in other disciplines. In this way, the chemical sciences will be able to contribute in remarkable ways to an improved future for our country, for humanity, and for our planet. We caution the reader that these grand challenges should not be taken as the only areas for worthwhile research. The history of science shows again and again that large revolutions in thought can arise from discoveries that were made by individuals or teams who were not constrained by someone else’s list. Chemistry and chemical engineering enter the 21st century with exciting science ahead and major contributions to make. The committee hopes this report will stimulate young people to join them in meeting these challenges, and that society will support continued efforts of chemists and chemical engineers in their work on and beyond the molecular frontier. Some Grand Challenges for Chemists and Chemical Engineers Learn how to synthesize and manufacture any new substance that can have scientific or practical interest, using compact synthetic schemes and processes with high selectivity for the desired product, and with low energy consumption and benign environmental effects in the process. This goal will require continuing progress in the development of new methods for synthesis and manufacturing. Human welfare will continue to benefit from new substances, including medicines and specialized materials. Develop new materials and measurement devices that will protect citizens against terrorism, accident, crime, and disease, in part by detecting and identifying dangerous substances and organisms using methods with high sensitivity and selectivity. Rapid and reliable detection of dangerous disease organisms, highly toxic chemicals, and concealed explosives (including those in land

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering mines), is the first important step in responding to threats. The next important step for chemists and chemical engineers will be to devise methods to deal with such threats, including those involved in terrorist or military attacks. Understand and control how molecules react—over all time scales and the full range of molecular size. This fundamental understanding will let us design new reactions and manufacturing processes and will provide fundamental insights into the science of chemistry. Major advances that will contribute to this goal over the next decades include: the predictive computational modeling of molecular motions using large-scale parallel processing arrays; the ability to investigate and manipulate individual molecules, not just collections of molecules; and the generation of ultrafast electron pulses and optical pulses down to x-ray wavelengths, to observe molecular structures during chemical reactions. This is but one area in which increased understanding will lead to a greater ability to improve the practical applications of the chemical sciences. Learn how to design and produce new substances, materials, and molecular devices with properties that can be predicted, tailored, and tuned before production. This ability would greatly streamline the search for new useful substances, avoiding considerable trial and error. Recent and projected advances in chemical theory and computation should make this possible. Understand the chemistry of living systems in detail. Understand how various different proteins and nucleic acids and small biological molecules assemble into chemically defined functional complexes, and indeed understand all the complex chemical interactions among the various components of living cells. Explaining the processes of life in chemical terms is one of the great challenges continuing into the future, and the chemistry behind thought and memory is an especially exciting challenge. This is an area in which great progress has been made, as biology increasingly becomes a chemical science (and chemistry increasingly becomes a life science). Develop medicines and therapies that can cure currently untreatable diseases. In spite of the great progress that has been made in the invention of new medicines by chemists, and new materials and delivery vehicles by engineers, the challenges in these directions are vast. New medicines to deal with cancer, viral diseases, and many other maladies will enormously improve human welfare. Develop self-assembly as a useful approach to the synthesis and manufacturing of complex systems and materials. Mixtures of

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering properly designed chemical components can organize themselves into complex assemblies with structures from the nanoscale to the macroscale, in a fashion similar to biological assembly. Taking this methodology from the laboratory experimentation to the practical manufacturing arena could revolutionize chemical processing. Understand the complex chemistry of the earth, including land, sea, atmosphere, and biosphere, so we can maintain its livability. This is a fundamental challenge to the natural science of our field, and it is key to helping design policies that will prevent environmental degradation. In addition, chemical scientists will use this understanding to create new methods to deal with pollution and other threats to our earth. Develop unlimited and inexpensive energy (with new ways of energy generation, storage, and transportation) to pave the way to a truly sustainable future. Our current ways of generating and using energy consume limited resources and produce environmental problems. There are very exciting prospects for fuel cells to permit an economy based on hydrogen (generated in various ways) rather than fossil fuels, ways to harness the energy of sunlight for our use, and superconductors that will permit efficient energy distribution. Design and develop self-optimizing chemical systems. Building on the approach that allows optimization of biological systems through evolution, this would let a system produce the optimal new substance, and produce it as a single product rather than as a mixture from which the desired component must be isolated and identified. Self-optimizing systems would allow visionary chemical scientists to use this approach to make new medicines, catalysts, and other important chemical products—in part by combining new approaches to informatics with rapid experimental screening methods. Revolutionize the design of chemical processes to make them safe, compact, flexible, energy efficient, environmentally benign, and conducive to the rapid commercialization of new products. This points to the major goal of modern chemical engineering, in which many new factors are important for an optimal manufacturing process. Great progress has been made in developing Green Chemistry, but more is needed as we continue to meet human needs with the production of important chemical products using processes that are completely harmless to the earth and its inhabitants. Communicate effectively to the general public the contributions that chemistry and chemical engineering make to society. Chem-

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Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering ists and chemical engineers need to learn how to communicate effectively to the general public — both through the media and directly — to explain what chemists and chemical engineers do and to convey the goals and achievements of the chemical sciences in pursuit of a better world. Attract the best and the brightest young students into the chemical sciences, to help meet these challenges. They can contribute to critical human needs while following exciting careers, working on and beyond the molecular frontier.