Society & Partner Zone Issue 5, Interviews

Interview with a current Society Partner

Dr. Jean Wills has been with the American Oil Chemists’ Society for 20 years, first as Director of Education and Meetings, then as Associate Executive Vice President, and for the past six years Executive Vice President. In addition to duties as the AOCS Executive, she serves as the Executive Director of the AOCS Foundation, and for six years as Executive Director of the International Society for Fat Research. In total, Dr. Wills has worked with continuing professional education in both for-profit and not-for-profit businesses for the past 30 years. Jean Wills has degrees in European History, Adult and Continuing Education and a doctorate from the University of Illinois in Educational Organization and Leadership.

Published monthly, the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society (JAOCS) is devoted to fundamental and practical research, production, processing, packaging, and distribution in the field of fats, oils, proteins, and other related substances. Lipids, also a monthly, is one of the premier journals in its field and features full-length original research articles, short communications, methods papers, and review articles. The Journal of Surfactants and Detergents (JSD) is a quarterly science and news journal dedicated to the practical and theoretical aspects of oleochemical and petrochemical surfactants, soaps, and detergents.

AOCS, founded in 1909, is an international scientific society with more than 4,000 members in over 90 countries. AOCS offers a forum for the exchange of ideas, information, and experience among its members and others who have a professional interest in the science and technology of fats, oils, surfactants, detergents, and related materials. The AOCS world headquarters is located in Champaign, Illinois, USA.

Could you give us a general overview of the vision of the American Oil Chemists’ Society?

The American Oil Chemists’ Society was started 100 years ago when nine (9) chemists, all men working with Cottonseed Oil, and all from the United States needed to standardize their analyses in order to compare data. The organization started by those men is now global. The analytical methods they developed have grown into measurements used for international trade.

Members of the AOCS work in government research labs, corporate product development, and academic research. They have contributed to the development of infant formula, healthy food oils, the improvement of personal care products, and the development of environmentally friendly cleaning products. AOCS members study atherosclerosis and the oils that are positive and negative in the diet relative to that disease. The list of contributions that affect our lives as a result of the research of AOCS members is as long as the 100 years they have been busy doing research.

The AOCS was founded in 1909 and you will be celebrating your 100th anniversary next year. You’ve already mentioned some of achievements made over this period, however could you let us know what is still to come?

AOCS members have been very active in the development of biorenewables for fuel over the past 10 years. In addition, they are researching obesity, and the positive effect of Omega 3 Fatty Acids on health. AOCS developed the method used by major food companies to reformulate foods when the trans fat labeling law was mandated in the United States several years ago. AOCS methods are also used to measure genetic modification in oils that are traded abroad.

A major initiative of the AOCS Board is to disseminate as much information to its members and constituents as possible, in as short a time as possible, which means maximum electronic accessibility. Electronic products including distance learning, peer reviewed science in collaboration with Springer, and exchange of research ideas in both formal and informal venues are all being made available via the AOCS website ( to bring information to everyone around the globe at the same time. An electronic networking software has been used on a trial basis (among attendees at the AOCS Annual Meeting in 2008) to connect individuals with similar research interests. The plan is to extend this electronic network year-round, and to all AOCS members and constituents.

You began publishing your journals with Springer as of 2007. What was it that the AOCS was primarily looking for in a publisher?

The collaboration between Springer and AOCS has been a great benefit to AOCS members and others who use AOCS resources. As a Society, AOCS was looking for a way to expose their scientific publications a broader audience, in a way that was affordable to all concerned. AOCS was looking for a way to maintain autonomy over content, while relying upon a high quality and reputable vendor, with a highly respected brand identity, to produce the journals.

What was the transition to a new publisher like?

It required time and effort, as well as communication between AOCS and Springer. There are countless details to be considered in a transition of this type. As a result we have developed a trusting and professional relationship, which has led to very high quality journals and high user satisfaction.

How have the journals benefited by being part of the Springer journal family?

The AOCS journals have experienced a spike in submissions as their visibility on the Springer website has grown. They are bundled with other like-journals to libraries worldwide, leading to broader institutional subscription. Back issues have been digitized, increasing accessibility to and citations by researchers. Over the past year, Springer and the editors have worked hard to get the journals onto a regular production schedule, something the AOCS had struggled with.

What is your day-to-day relationship like with the publisher, especially with your editor at Springer?

Marion Hertel and Ken Derham have been available to us throughout the process. They have been at our meetings, along with other Springer staff when appropriate, to answer questions and help AOCS members, staff, and editors through the transition process. Our relationship with Springer is excellent.

Springer, through Marion, has been proactive in supporting the mission of AOCS beyond just the journals. One example has been to offer AOCS members access to a selected number of other journals produced by Springer free of charge, as an added member benefit to AOCS. This is another win-win situation brought about through the collaboration with Springer.

What are your future plans for the journals?

We believe that the systems that have been put into place with Springer will lead to healthier journals, meaning that they will be out on time, more potential authors will know about the journals, and more researchers will cite the journals leading to healthy impact factors. The finances of bringing the information in the journals to members was not feasible to a small association like our own. With Springer we have been able to ensure the viability of our journals and the very important information they convey, in a state-of-the art format.

Journals of the AOCS

Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society

Editor-in-Chief: Richard W. Hartel

ISSN Druck: 0003-021X

ISSN Online: 1558-9331

JAOCS publishes original research articles, invited reviews, and letters to the editor that add significantly to the body of knowledge concerning the science and technology of fats, oils, oilseed proteins, and related materials. Included are reports of advances, innovations or important new information pertaining to analysis, properties, processing, products, and applications of these food and industrial resources.


Editor-in-Chief: Eric J. Murphy

ISSN Druck: 0024-4201

ISSN Online: 1558-9307

Lipids publishes original articles, communications, and invited reviews in lipid research, including chemistry, biochemistry, clinical nutrition, and metabolism. In addition, Lipids publishes papers establishing novel methods in the field of lipid research.

Journal of Surfactants and Detergents

Editor-in-Chief: Jean L. Salager

ISSN Druck: 1097-3958

ISSN Online: 1558-9293

Journal of Surfactants and Detergents publishes scientific contributions in the surfactants and detergents arena. This includes the basic and applied science of petrochemical and oleochemical surfactants, the development and performance of surfactants in all applications, as well as the development and manufacture of detergent ingredients and their formulation into finished products.