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Chemistry International
Vol. 23, No. 4
July 2001

Reflections on Three Decades of IUPAC Participation

Richard A. Durst *

Richard A. DurstAs my final IUPAC General Assembly approaches, I would like to reflect briefly on my many years of service and participation in IUPAC activities. As we all know, the membership rules were changed some years ago to prevent my level of participation, but I somehow "fell through the cracks". That is, by limiting the number of years one could be a member of IUPAC, it was hoped to bring in fresh ideas and enthusiasm, and perhaps also to dispel the notion of an "old boys’ club" mentality. While I am obviously an example of an extreme case, I would like to think that my enthusiasm for IUPAC activities has not diminished in the slightest and that I can still periodically come up with new ideas and worthwhile contributions. I expect that my association with the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) provided additional value to my efforts.

In hindsight, my earliest participation as an Associate Member of the Commission on Electrochemistry (I.3) began in 1971 when I was elected at the General Assembly held in Washington, DC, but I was not very active in this Commission until the 28th General Assembly in Madrid in 1975. After rather minimal contributions to this Commission, I was elected (or perhaps deported) in 1979 to the Commission on Electroanalytical Chemistry (V.5), where my expertise was more relevant to the ongoing and future projects. I eventually became Chairman of this Commission and subsequently was elected to the Analytical Chemistry Division (V) Committee, where I have remained until my final function at the General Assembly in Brisbane in July 2001.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to work with some of the most outstanding chemists in the world; first as a wide-eyed and awestruck young scientist and, later, as a more mature (older?) scientist who was still impressed with his association with world-class colleagues. While I have tried my best to fulfill my various duties in IUPAC, I hope that my contributions have justified my many years of effort and participation.

I don’t know if my tenure in IUPAC is a longevity record or not; that is not important except perhaps for the Guinness Book of Records. What is important is how my colleagues judge my contributions to the objectives of IUPAC. As always, I have tried to do my best for IUPAC, and I wish all of you great success in the coming years. I shall continue to follow the activities of IUPAC closely and hope that I may be called upon in the future to assist in the projects of the Working Groups.


Prof. Richard A. Durst (Professor of Chemistry and Chairman, Department of Food Science and Technology, Director of the Cornell Institute of Food Science, Cornell University, Geneva, New York 14456-0462 USA; E-mail:; <>), currently a Titular Member of the Analytical Chemistry Division (V) Committee, has provided the following reminiscences of his 30-year tenure as an active IUPAC Member.


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