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In 1876, the American Chemical Society (ACS) was established at NYU in Manhattan. One hundred forty years later, an ACS chapter was founded at another NYU campus — this time in Abu Dhabi.

The ACS is the largest scientific society in the world, claiming nearly 160,000 members. The new ACS chapter will facilitate the work of chemists from both academia and industry throughout the UAE, with the aim of promoting the study of chemistry in the region.

"This is a historical move for the sciences in the UAE, because it forms a connection between our chemistry community and an important international organization in the ACS," said Panče Naumov, associate professor of chemistry at NYU Abu Dhabi.

"We have about 60 members at the moment," Naumov said, "and we're going to help to connect people in the field and hold annual events. There will also be a student chapter."

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This is a historical move for the sciences in the UAE, because it forms a connection between our chemistry community and an important international organization.

Panče Naumov, associate professor of chemistry

Wael Rabeh, assistant professor of chemistry, believes that the local ACS chapter can help grow an appreciation of chemistry in the UAE and lead to advancements in the sciences more generally.

"Chemistry is a fundamental science, and developments in other fields, like biology, rely at some level on chemistry," Rabeh said. "We need to continue to train students in chemistry to advance not only the field of chemistry, but other sciences as well."

Historical Move For Sciences in the UAE
NYUAD's Panče Naumov (left) accepts a plaque welcoming the UAE into the ACS.

The inauguration of the UAE chapter of the ACS was kicked off by a visit by Donna Nelson, ACS president. The launch also featured a panel discussion by editors of high-level chemistry journals, such as Chemical Review and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"The founding of the UAE chapter will help us raise awareness so that people can appreciate the science behind the chemistry," Rabeh said.

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The founding of the UAE chapter will help us raise awareness so that people can appreciate the science behind the chemistry.

Wael Rabeh, assistant professor of chemistry

The group will work to recruit members from local and regional institutions, where an ACS chapter isn't available in those countries, Rabeh said. He also believes that the group will foster communication and collaborations between academia and local industry and that the establishment of an organization in the UAE such as the ACS will help connect these sectors which today rarely collaborate.

And developing the local chemistry community may help NYUAD faculty, students, and researchers contribute to Abu Dhabi's becoming a global hub of innovation and technology.

Article by Matthew Corcoran, NYUAD Public Affairs