History of SCI America

In 1879 chemists in Northern England met to convene a chemical society. The “Society of Chemical Industry” was officially formed in London, England in 1881. The organization of the New York Section began in May 1894; the section was renamed “America Section” in 1919. Members thronged to the monthly meetings to hear speakers such as Carl Duisberg, BASF’s pioneering research director and Leo Baekeland, inventor of Bakelite. The section quickly evolved into a focus of networking and communication, eschewing lobbying or chemical education.

The celebratory role of the New York Section was more durably established by the visit of a titan of the British chemical industry, William H. Perkin, in the fall of 1906. To mark the special occasion of his visit, the Section decided to give the aged Perkin a medal. To complement the highly esteemed Perkin Medal, the Section began awarding the Chemical Industry Medal in 1933 to “a person making a valuable application of chemical research to industry. Primary considerations shall be given to applications in the Public Interest.” In 2004 SCI America teamed up with the Science History Institute to recognize early-career success in innovation, as reflected both in market impact and improvement to quality of life, by creating the Gordon E. Moore medal. These prestigious awards continue to be presented annually.

In recent years, SCI America has supplemented its activities to recognize achievement with scholarships and internships that encourage students to pursue careers in industrial chemistry. It also provides an annual forum, Innovation Day, for young researchers to network with their peers and develop a longer range understanding of the challenges and potential advances in chemical research.