Maya Nilkant

Increasing Successful Award Nominations from Underrepresented Groups

Blog Post created by Maya Nilkant on Jun 6, 2017

By Christine Chow


WCC, the ACS Board Committee on Grants & Awards, and the ACS Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board organized a session focused on increasing award nominations from underrepresented groups. The panel discussion, moderated by George Bodner (Chair, Board Standing Committee on Grants & Awards) and Amber  Charlebois (WCC Chair), included Christina Bodurow (Eli Lilly), Amanda Bryant‐Friedrich (University of Toledo), Cynthia Maryannoff (Baruch S. Blumberg Institute) and Les McQuire (Novartis) as participants. An overview of the nomination and selection process was given, followed by discussions on implicit bias, how to prepare competitive nominations, reviewer criteria, and how to become award ready. Analysis of the national ACS technical awards between 1923 and 2015 revealed that women and members of underrepresented groups received very few (less than 5% of the total). Advances were made in 2017 (19% female winners), although caution should be taken when looking at numbers from a single year. Women comprise 29% of the ACS membership.


Some key recommendations for putting together successful nominations were made.  

  • Focus on specific outstanding accomplishments of the nominee and address the nomination criteria for the specific award.
  • The components of the award package should be focused and well integrated, with the entire nomination package being tailored for the specific award.
  • Focus on the significance and impact of the nominee's work (i.e., first to accomplish the highlighted work, developed best method in the field, etc.).


     Other recommendations were made to ensure that members of underrepresented groups are well positioned to be nominated and receive awards in the future. Getting more people "award ready" will require active mentoring throughout the career and greater advocacy from leaders in the field, such as former awardees and ACS leadership. Members of the audience recommended establishing rubrics for each award so that the selection criteria are transparent.


Please consider nominating an underrepresented chemist for a national technical award this November!



Charlebois, A. F. “Becoming ‘Award Ready’.Chemical & Engineering News, September 5, 2016.

Bodner, G. M.; Kuck, V. J. "Help Diversify ACS National Awards." Chemical & Engineering News, February 22, 2016.

Jacobs, M. "ACS's Work is not Done." Chemical & Engineering News, February 1, 2016.


Watch the Webinar, “Are You Award Ready?”

A webinar based on the ACS national meeting panel, “Increasing Successful Awards Nominations from Underrepresented Groups”, held on September 20, 2016:  Amanda Bryant‐Friedrich and Les McQuire discussed ways to be “award ready” at greater length.