Dear Materials Community

Jean-Luc Brédas a and Seth R. Marder b
aDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0088, USA. E-mail:
bSchool of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0400, USA. E-mail:

Dear Materials Community,

Many of you may have heard of the article that was posted on the Angewandte Chemie web site (and subsequently removed) by Tomas Hudlicky. We consider several of the opinions expressed in this article to be at best seriously misguided on multiple levels. What is perhaps more disturbing to us is that such opinions, expressed overtly by Dr Hudlicky, are also expressed privately by many others, both through people’s words and also, critically, by their actions. Angewandte Chemie's initial reaction to the complaints about the article (the apology and rationalization given) was not accepted by members of the community, and 15 members of the International Advisory Board resigned in protest. Following this, a more direct apology was given.1 Institutions like the ACS, the RSC and many others are taking steps in recognizing the fact that systematic and endemic inequalities do exist, and leadership at all levels is required to create lasting change.

Clearly, in this instance, Angewandte Chemie failed the community, as the journal admitted in their response to this incident.1 Many expressed their outrage via social media, which itself has value; however, if this is not followed up on a daily basis by action, then, as has happened so many times in the past, people's outrage will fade into business as usual and not much will effectively change. It is time to move past a simple expression of indignation and ensure that each of us develop an individual action plan. Beyond big actions that can be taken, it is necessary for each of us to take small steps every day to affirm our colleagues’ value and to change policy and, critically, also culture. True transformation happens when each of us takes personal responsibility to be an agent of change, not simply when there is an outcry, but day in and day out, in a manner that is fundamentally incorporated into the fabric of who we are. In particular, those of us who are more senior and may have greater influence need to use our standing within the community to advocate for what is right, support those who need it, and call out those who are unsupportive, or worse, outright hostile.

What can we do and what are we doing to affect change? Those of us writing this piece could no doubt do more than we have, but here are some steps we have taken over years, if not decades, limited here to only those pertaining to the communication of science:



(1) Invite plenary and invited speakers that better represent the diversity of the scientific community and the broader community in general.

(2) Change advisory boards to ensure more equitable representation, and nominate women and underrepresented minorities to lead conferences.

(3) When organizing sessions for meetings, the pros and cons of utilizing “female/underrepresented minority” sessions to promote diversity were carefully considered, recognizing that in some cases these sessions may contribute to marginalizing, rather than empowering, these communities. We have elected to devote significant effort to having greater representation of women/underrepresented minorities in all sessions, both as speakers and session chairs.

(4) Call out inequities to organizers when one sees them, and boycott conferences that are clearly heavily biased.



(1) Ensure that editors and editorial boards have diversity reflective of that of the scientific community and the broader community in general, both for the journals for which we have somewhat direct editorial responsibility, but also those where we are on the advisory board.

(2) Ensure that all members of the editorial teams understand and commit to equity.

(3) Support those journals that embody a commitment to equity and inclusion and not submit papers to those that do not.

(4) Nominate women/underrepresented minorities for journal awards (and others).


More importantly, as noted above, there are many things that occur on a daily basis that are often unseen, but truly make a difference. Regardless of seniority and ethnicity, each of us can be impactful, recognize our implicit biases, strive to address them, and help move our community forward. Our community needs your help and we are asking for it, appreciating that we have much to do that will require us to be resolute.



Jean-Luc Brédas

Advisory Board, Materials Horizons, RSC

Associate Editor, Chemistry of Materials, ACS


Seth Marder

Chair, Editorial Board, Materials Horizons, RSC


Views expressed in this editorial are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of the RSC.


  1.  DOI:10.1002/anie.202006717 .

This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2020