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Nancy B. Jackson, Chemical Security Leader, Wins 2012 AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy

Nancy B. Jackson, past president of the American Chemical Society (2011) and manager of the International Chemical Threat Reduction Department at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been chosen by AAAS to receive the 2012 Award for Science Diplomacy.

Jackson was honored by AAAS for her “ongoing commitment to preventing the theft and diversion of chemicals through the establishment of the Chemical Security Engagement Program.” AAAS also lauded Jackson for “developing, nurturing, and advancing careers of scientists worldwide, with a special emphasis on women scientists in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia.”

“Nancy Jackson is a leader in international chemical security who has made significant contributions to science diplomacy,” said AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan C. Turekian. “She also has cultivated professional relationships and served as a role model and advisor to many early-career aspiring chemists worldwide, especially women chemists.”

Jackson is perhaps best-known for organizing a major U.S. State Department initiative called the Chemical Security Engagement Program. Since the program’s inception in 2007, she has demonstrated an “unstinting, passionate, and ongoing commitment to preventing the theft and diversion of chemicals to the wrong hands,” said Madeleine Jacobs, executive director and CEO of the American Chemical Society.


Nancy B. Jackson | Credit: Peter Cutts Photography



In particular, Jackson has worked tirelessly to engage foreign governments, universities, professional chemical associations, and industry associations in supporting improved chemical safety and security. For example, she spearheaded negotiations with leaders of the Malaysian Chemical Society to convene a program for the responsible use of chemicals. Chemists from academia, industries, and Malaysian institutes who had previously worked in isolation were able to network productively. Moreover, the effort has subsequently been extended to other parts of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. In 2009 and 2010, similar chemical-safety workshops were convened at the Jordan University of Science and Technology.

The Chemical Security Engagement Program also has involved groups such as the Himpunan Kimia Indonesia, the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies, the Federation of African Societies of Chemistry, the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In 2011, Jackson was elected to serve as president of the American Chemical Society during the United Nation’s International Year of Chemistry. She conducted 17 trips abroad, thereby extending her science diplomacy efforts. She also wrote and spoke extensively on the importance of science diplomacy as an essential pathway to future world harmony and security.

Jackson has in addition supported the Federation of the Asian Chemical Society, initiating a strategic alliance with the American Chemical Society that resulted in a symposium focused on shared goals for chemical security and energy. She encouraged a delegation of Iraqi chemists to attend the 2012 national meeting of the American Chemical Society to learn more about the structure and culture of a voluntary professional society. Similarly, Jackson was instrumental in helping young chemists from Yemen, Iraq, and India attend the International Conference of Young Chemists that took place at the University of Jordan, where she conducted a chemical-safety workshop.

In 2012, she began to work with a group of chemists in the Middle East to develop a Code of Conduct for chemists. The group met in Amman, Jordan, at the Middle East Scientific Institute for Security, headed by a member of the Jordanian Royal Family. The Code of Conduct will identify best practices for chemical safety and security, environmental protection, and more.

Jackson’s other activities have included an effort to support young scientists in Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey, and to engage them in innovative research. This initiative will involve teaching 400 to 800 young scientists critical professional skills for job-hunting and networking.

She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2011, she received the Distinguished Women in Chemical Engineering Award. Jackson is a Fellow of AAAS and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. She received the Howard Fawcett Award from the American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety. She has a lengthy record of professional activities and community service.

The AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy, dating to 1992, recognizes an individual or a small group working in the scientific and engineering or foreign affairs communities making an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy. Established in 2010 by the AAAS Board of Directors, the award includes a plaque and an honorarium of $5000.

The AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy will be given to Jackson during the 179th AAAS Annual Meeting, which will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, from 14-18 February 2013. A ceremony and reception will be held in the Republic Ballroom of the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Friday 15 February at 6:30 p.m.


Learn more about the AAAS Science Diplomacy Award.
Learn more about the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting, 14-18 February in Boston.