Chemistry Students Host Second Annual ComSciCon Conference

SciComATL swag for attendees. Photo by @ComSciConATL on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Emory University hosted the second annual ComSciCon ATL. ComSciCon is an organization that provides workshops hosted by and for graduate students with a focus on science communication. The ComSciCon ATL event was a collaborative efforts between organizers from UGA, Georgia Tech, and Emory. Dyer Group graduate students Helen Siaw and Brooke Andrews, both in their fourth year, were Emory’s event leads. The conference was funded, in part, by a generous gift from Emory’s Laney Graduate School among other sponsors. All conference expenses and meals were covered for participants.

SciComConATL participants (attempt to?) take a photo together on the stairs in the Science Commons Atrium. Photo from @SciConComATL on Twitter.

The event, which took place in the Atwood Chemistry Center, was two days full of professional panels, networking, activities, and breakout sessions. Attendees were given the unique chance to hone their communication skills, while hearing from a diverse cast of science communication experts.

The event included four panels:

SciComm Audiences

This panel was organized to address the questions surrounding the target audiences of science communications. The three panelists, Barbara Coble (Founder of Emory’s Graduation Generation), James Porter (Professor of Ecology and Marine Sciences at UGA), and Marc Merlin (Executive Director of the Atlanta Science Tavern), shared their unique experiences to provide insight into a variety of SciComm audiences.

Ethics of SciComm

This panel, which addressed some of the ethical considerations in the realm of science communication, was comprised of Veronica van Montfrans (Director of Learning Sciences Innovation and Research at Georgia Tech and the joint Emory/GA Tech Biomedical Engineering program), Aaron Levine (Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech), and Paul Root Wolpe (Professor of Jewish Bioethics and Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory).

Data & Visual SciComm

Mica Duran (Board-certified medical illustrator), Michael Shaw (MD, educational filmmaker), Alex Nazzari (Emory undergraduate student, President of Science.Art.Wonder), and Becky Scheel (Service Designer with Harmonic Design) shared about possible advantages, obstacles, and applications of visual media in science communication.

Advocacy & Policy

The panel of Jasmine Clark (Lecturer of Microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology at Emory University), Berry Brosi (Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Emory), John Bowers (Chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division), and Robert Butera (Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the Georgia Tech College of Engineering) discussed how scientists can use their voice to influence political action.

The workshop also featured an afternoon of activities where attendees were given the chance to make use of the valuable information they were learning throughout the day. During a write-a-thon, attendees were given constructive feedback on writing samples. Mock interviews were hosted to give advice on best interview practices for the field. During “Improv Hour”, attendees had the chance to show up in front of an audience and participate in fun and informative improvisation-based activities led by Highwire Comedy Company.

After a full first day, the evening wrapped up with a pizza and movie night featuring the documentary “Chasing Coral“—one of the many projects from Dr. Porter. The film explores what coral reefs can tell us about the health of our globe and the future of our planet. In addition, the film also provides a wonderful example of how scientists can make an impact through film and other forms of communication.

Storytelling training with Janece Shaffer. Photo by @HelenSiaw on Twitter.

On the second day, panel sessions were punctuated with short breakout sessions. One session was hosted by Janece Shaffer, Founder and Chief Story Consultant for Storycentric. Storycentric collaborates with companies to build impactful stories for marketing, brand development, and public speaking. Another breakout session hosted by Dan Samorodnitisky gave attendees the chance to develop a pitch that could be submitted to a media outlet. As an Editor with MassiveSci, Dr. Samorodnitisky is familiar with the ins and outs of story pitching, passing along some words of wisdom to those who are interested in submitting. Finally, the third breakout session focused on developing an online persona. In this session,hosted by Social Media Strategist Manu Muraro, attendees were given practical advice on best social media practices for building a brand.

Dr. Shepherd’s keynote address in Atwood Hall 360. Photo by @MAjayi_907 on Twitter.

The event concluded with a keynote address from Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate. He hosts The Weather Channel’s award-winning Sunday talk show, “Weather Geeks“, and serves as the chair of the NASA Earth Sciences Advisory Committee. He shared his unique experience with science communication and emphasized the importance of effectively communicating science to the public.

Overall, the two-day workshop was a wonderfully fun and informative event. The perfectly curated cast of science communicators was able to provide unique insights and advice from all corners of the science communications arena. Attendees were given practical advice, networking opportunities, and the chance to ask questions and develop their skills.

Professional development workshops like this one are undeniably valuable to graduate students, so a huge “Thank you!” to everyone who made this event possible.

Jen Heemstra Debuts “Office Hours” and “Real Talk” Podcast at C&EN

Jen Heemstra

Dr. Jen Heemstra has teamed up with C&EN for the new advice column, “Office Hours.” The monthly column will “engage the STEM community in dialogue on important issues–including prioritizing mental health, finding motivations, and coping with setbacks and failures.” A key feature will be questions or topic ideas from readers that will kick off each column, helping “Office Hours” become a catalyst for broader conversation.

Readers can submit their questions on the C&EN website.

Jen’s is also featured in the latest episode of the C&EN podcast, Stereo Chemistry. The podcast team spent several days in the lab getting to know Jen and her students and “learning how and why she’s helping create the next generation of chemistry’s thought leaders.” You can listen here.

You can also follow Jen’s thoughts on science and mentoring on her popular @jenheemstra Twitter account and on her blog, Things that change the way I think.

Congratulations, Jen!

2018 STEM Research and Career Symposium Recap

The 2018 STEM Research and Career Symposium, organized by the Laney Graduate School, took place earlier this week.  Faculty and students from diverse backgrounds were invited to present their research, engage in networking opportunities, and get to know Emory’s graduate program. Attendees shared ideas and STEM experiences during oral presentations, breakout meetings, poster sessions, and meals. The Keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Jose Antonio Bowen, President of Goucher College and author of Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. In an entertaining and humor-filled presentation, he discussed the biology of learning, tips to success, and more.

Davies group members Robert Kubiak and Yannick Boni presenting the CCHF poster.

Dr. James Kindt served as a Co-Organizer for the event alongside Dr. Eddie Morgan from the Department of Pharmacology. Several graduate students in the Department of Chemistry were spotted at the symposium mingling with visiting undergraduate students and sharing their amazing research. The event even featured a poster highlighting all that the Center for Selective C-H Functionalization (CCHF) has to offer.

Thank you to everyone who attended and represented the Department of Chemistry!

Photo from @Wuestlab on Twitter.

CCHF and Fusion Science Theater Communicating Science Workshop

At the end of April, the CCHF hosted a Communicating Science Workshop given by playwright, chemist, and educator Holly Walter Kerby. During the workshop, Kerby provided training in the tools and concepts behind story-telling to an audience of enthusiastic students and faculty members. As Founder and Executive Director of Fusion Science Theater (FST), Kerby uses her own scientific story-telling in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) outreach. The idea behind FST is to engage children in learning science by capitalizing on the techniques of theater. Through entertaining and educational demonstrations, FST promotes curiosity in the next generation of scientists.

In the first of two workshops, Kerby’s workshop taught the techniques of FST to graduate students and postdocs with a focus on the techniques of story-telling from scientific question to conclusion. Attendees were encouraged to use their research as a “plot” to develop their own stories. Participants used small graphic visual aids to help move the story along. Kerby helped Emory scientists to see how the ability to design and deliver a story is unquestionably valuable in the scientific community. From giving a presentation at a conference to participating in outreach events, scientists are required to engage and inform a wide audience. Story-telling has been proven to be a more impactful way of sharing information, making it particularly useful in the scientific arena.

In her second workshop, Kerby helped attendees capitalize on their storytelling skills to develop demonstrations to be used at future outreach events. Students put together presentations covering topics from catalysis to C-H functionalization, primarily targeted towards young audiences. The presentations were also designed to encourage audience participation using a show of hands or a vote. Kerby explained that engaging the audience in this way peaks their enthusiasm for the material and provides meaningful feedback regarding the effectiveness of the presentation.  The afternoon was spent developing ideas, building props, and rehearsing.

When the second day of the workshop rolled around, presenters were prepared to show off their demonstrations in front of an audience. The room was filled with guests—including chemistry faculty and staff— who served as the audience for the demos and then provided valuable feedback on how to further refine them for future use. Keep an eye out for some of the unique demonstrations at next year’s Atlanta Science Festival!

Thank you to the CCHF and Holly Walker Kerby for fantastic workshop!

Interested in participating in more CCHF events? Click here!

Interested in learning more about FST? Click here!

Achievement, Part 2: Don’t just work harder, work better

By: Dr. Jen Heemstra

Reposted with permission from Things that change the way I think. Originally published on March 18th, 2018.


I’ve had a great year for running – since last spring, I’ve set a personal record in every race I’ve entered.  Much of that success has come from hard work and strategic training.  But, as I alluded to in my last blog post, while hard work and training are very important, they aren’t everything.  Over the same time period, I’ve also gone swimming often, and despite working hard and finishing every session exhausted, I still garner a look from lifeguards that suggests they’re thinking “Is that woman swimming, or is she drowning? Does she need help?” I’m slow and awkward, making surprisingly little forward progress for all of the effort I seem to be expending. And then there are my kick flips, from which I emerge gasping for breath, often with water up my nose, and sometimes not even in the same lane where I started.

What is the difference between my progress in running and the continued frustration of my swimming?  Form.  It’s not just about working harder, but working better, and the best athletes know that if your technique is not dialed in, much of the effort of training is wasted.  Over the past year, I’ve focused intensely on my running form, constantly adjusting to achieve greater efficiency.  However, I’ve neglected doing this with swimming, and it shows.

So, how does this translate to science?  As researchers, our days are filled with tasks.  If you work in a lab, this could be running reactions, analyzing compounds, passaging cells, etc, mixed in with reading the literature, fixing instruments, and preparing presentations.  As a faculty member, days are no less task oriented – there’s teaching class, going to meetings, editing manuscripts and proposals from your lab, reviewing manuscripts and proposals from other labs, answering emails… It can feel great to schedule out all of the tasks that need to be accomplished in a day, then systematically tick each of them off the to-do list before going home.  However, this can give a false sense of security that you’re doing your job well. In reality, you can complete every task on your list, but not have actually done your job.

Just as with sports, it’s not only about what you do, but how you do it. Form matters.  While the tasks that make up your daily plan will probably change dramatically as you progress in your career, the form required to do your job well can remain surprisingly similar. Among the key elements of this are:

Be strategic – What are the most important things to get done today? Am I doing those as efficiently as possible? Are there things I’m not doing that I should be doing? Are there things I’m doing that I should not be doing?

Be skeptical – What could go wrong with this experiment or project?  Is there a way to avoid that? Is there something making the data look like things are working, even though they’re really not?

Be creative – If this doesn’t work, what else can I try? Is there a better way to do this? Where are the knowledge or technology gaps in my field and can I think of ways to fill them?

Be courageous – Is there something I’m not doing because I’m afraid it might fail? What is the riskiest part of this project, and how can I run at that first? Am I making decisions based on what other people might think of me if I don’t succeed?

Be collegial – Do I care about the people around me? Am I using my expertise to help others with their projects? Am I invested in the success of my lab, my department, my university or company?

As with sports, it’s about the combination of getting out the door and moving, while keeping an eye on form throughout the effort.  As you work through the tasks of your day, be aware of your form and make adjustments when needed.  Ask yourself: Which elements of form am I already executing well, and where do I need to improve? The encouraging news is that the more you practice good form, the more it comes naturally. 

Click here for the original article.

Click here for Achievement, Part 1: What are you training for?

Achievement, Part 1: What are you training for?

By: Dr. Jen Heemstra

Reposted with permission from Things that change the way I think. Originally published on February 19th, 2018.


In my last post, I used the analogy of personal training to think about what motivates us and how we can harness that to consider career options and push through the rough patches that we’ll inevitably encounter in our career trajectories.  I’m going to continue with the sports analogy for a bit longer, thinking about how we can apply the training habits of athletes to our work life.

I’ve been pretty athletic throughout my life, but over the past two years, I’ve started taking my fitness much more seriously.  I have many friends who can tell you their 5k personal record or cycling watts/kg without thinking.  When I meet these people, the first question they typically ask is “What are you training for?”  When I return the question, the answer is occasionally “I’m in a rest season,” but this is almost always directly followed by “…then I’m training for…”  It has struck me that even among amateur athletes like me, almost nobody says “I’m just hoping to maintain the fitness that I have.”

So, how does this apply to our careers? It can be easy to fall into the habit of thinking that if you get your job done every day, then you’re doing well.  But, that’s just maintaining.  It’s the equivalent of saying “I’m not training for anything.  I just want to run a few miles every morning even if I never get faster.” If this sounds good, then you can still have a very happy career.  But, if you thrive on challenges and growth, then you should be thinking about your training practices.  There are several principles we can take from sports to think about our professional growth and development. In this post, I’ll explore six habits of successful athletes. Next post, I’ll wrap up with the final, and what I think is the most important, habit of athletes that we can apply to our work lives.

Goals. It’s really hard to push yourself if you don’t know what you are training for. Last post, I talked about how to envision career goals.  As a note, it’s completely fine for these to change over time.  Chances are that whatever you are doing now to move toward one career goal is developing important skills that will transfer, if and when your goals change in the future.  Training is rarely wasted – hitting the track with a 5k goal in mind will absolutely help you if you decide to do a triathlon instead.  Don’t be afraid to set big, ambitious goals.  Even if you don’t quite hit what you’re shooting for, you’ll get a lot farther than if you’re only training to achieve an easy goal.  In a practical sense, it’s important to have both short- and long-term goals.  Where do you want to be in 1 month? 1 year? 5 years? At the end of your career?  Make these goals as specific as possible.  When my athlete friends ask me “What are you training for?” and I answer, their next question is inevitably “What is your goal time?”  If you’re in grad school, your overarching goal is probably to earn a PhD, but you should have more detailed goals than that.  How many papers do you want to publish? Do you want to gain teaching experience?  It’s these specific things that will help you as you apply the next principle, which is that you need a…

Plan. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I love this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  It makes so much sense, but it’s also so easy for us to get caught up in daydreaming about goals and forget to make a plan.  Just as an athlete lays out their training plan immediately after setting a goal, you should be looking at your goals, asking yourself what you need in order to get there, and planning out how and when you are going to get that done.  No matter what your career stage, find mentors who are in the place you aspire to be, and ask them what it takes to get there.  For example, to get my job, students usually know that they will need a solid publication record.  But, they may not realize that they also need to hone their ability to formulate and refine ideas or develop excellent communication skills.  You should have a plan for each of your goals, from the shortest term to the longest term.  A good check is to ask yourself whether your short-term plan and goals are helping you accomplish your long-term plan and goals.

Conditioning.  If you’re not regularly pushing outside of your comfort zone, you’re probably not growing.  Here is where the running example is especially relevant.  Think about a pace that feels difficult to maintain.  If you run at that pace frequently, you’ll find that you can maintain it for longer, and eventually it might even start to feel easy.  At that point, you’ll find there is a new, faster pace that feels difficult.  But, again, you can eventually make that feel easy if you push yourself often enough.  As you go about your work, think about how you can push yourself – what is it that you don’t know you’re capable of?  Is there a level of multi-tasking in lab that feels overwhelming?  Does writing terrify you? (It terrified me for a long time!)  Frequently push yourself beyond what you think you can do, and I can almost guarantee that you’ll look back and wonder why it ever felt difficult in the first place…then be sure to look ahead to the next level.

Have fun. This one may seem strange, and your immediate reaction may be “Jen, if you want me to have fun, then you really should stop talking about running.”  Training is hard and often painful, but it’s much less so if you can find ways to make it fun.  I joined an indoor bike training program last winter, where I showed up 2-3 times per week, got on my bike in the basement of a nondescript building, and suffered through an 80 minute workout. And I paid money for this!  Why?  It’s because there were 10 other people there with me every time, and while we did occasionally resort to our respective “pain caves” during hard intervals, we spent much of the time getting to know each other, joking around, listening to fun music, and watching cool you tube videos on a big screen tv.  Even if you take your hobbies and work seriously, you should still be having fun with both.  My research group members are amazing in many ways – they’re incredibly bright, creative, and driven, and they also know how to make the job fun.  The walls of our lab and offices are decorated with their own custom research memes, and though everyone is working very hard, there is a consistent background of joking around.  Grad school is hard, but they have the insight to realize that it can feel a little less hard with some intentional fun. Wherever you are in your career, it’s important to cultivate fun. If possible, choose groups where people take the science seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously.  If you’re stuck in an un-fun workplace, think about ways that you can slowly change the culture, or find others in your same position outside of your group who you can joke around with.

Perseverance. One of my science heroes recently shared with me the analogy that sometimes research is like running up a hill with a bend in the road.  You’re struggling just to maintain your pace, and you don’t know what’s around the bend.  Is it more uphill?  Steeper?  Flat?  Downhill?  This is where perseverance comes in.  Even when we think we know what the immediate future holds, we really don’t.  When things feel tough, sometimes you need to just keep going.  I can think of many times that my project wasn’t working, we got scooped, I didn’t know if I’d ever get a job, I didn’t know if I’d ever get a grant funded.  The list goes on – the key in nearly all of those situations was to just keep going.  In these times, your short-term goals are your friend.  It may feel overwhelming to think about achieving your 5 year goal, but you can hopefully muster the energy to work toward a 5 hour goal.  That being said, sometimes you also need a rest, which brings us to…

Periodicity.  If you’re not into sports, periodicity is the intentional practice of alternating between pushing hard and resting.  It’s a physiological fact that you don’t get stronger while exercising; you get stronger while resting and fueling after exercise. Similarly, if all you do is push yourself professionally, eventually you will burn out.  I’ve found that it’s incredibly important to alternate between times of pushing hard and times of taking it easy.  And, this spans multiple timeframes.  Most days, I treat myself to a workout and end the day with a relaxing beer or glass of wine.  Each week, I take one day where I do essentially no work.  You may be working crazy hours in lab and at an insane intensity for several weeks to get all of the data for a manuscript, but once you do that, it’s wise to take at least a short vacation.  After both undergrad and grad school, I took about four months off and travelled the country.  While it can feel hard to take time off when there is still more work to be done, I’ve found that this is the time when I step back, put everything into perspective or see things in a new way, and the renewed energy and creativity I have upon returning more than makes up for the time lost.  As you think about your short- and long-term plans, think about the points at which you can engineer in rest hours, days, or even seasons.  Savor the rest time and enjoy it without guilt.

I know that I’ve centered this around sports, but my hope is that whatever pursuit drives you outside of work, you can see the training practices there and apply them to your work life as well. Stay tuned for my next post on what I think is the most important training practice of all.

Click here for the original article.

Victor Ma Receives Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award

Victor Ma, a fourth-year graduate student in the lab of Dr. Khalid Salaita, was recently selected as one of twenty-six Predoctoroal to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award Fellows from the National Institute of Health. This award will provide Victor with two years of funding to complete his doctoral thesis and an additional four years of funding for future postdoc training. In the Salaita lab, with co-mentorship by Dr. Brian Evavold, Victor’s research focuses on developing technologies to study mechanobiology at the molecular scale. With an ultimate goal of establishing an alternative mechanism for regulating T cell activity, he studies the roles of mechanical forces in T cell activation, whether these forces are coordinately controlled by mechano-sensitive proteins, and the importance of these forces for T cell biological function. The findings from these studies can provide insight into a potential strategy for developing effective immunotherapies.

In his postdoc, Victor plans on transitioning into the field of tumor immunology, where he hopes to capitalize on his skillset to elucidate the physical mechanisms responsible for preventing T cells from interacting with tumor cells. “My ultimate career goal is to become an independent investigator at a research-intensive university, where I can assume teaching duties and direct a research lab that combines knowledge from various disciplines to innovate career research,” says Victor. “This award will surely serve as a stepping stone to help achieve my goal!”

Congratulations, Victor!

Alumni Career Seminar: From Science to Snapchat

Xiaohong Wang

On Friday, September 29th, the Department of Chemistry welcomed back one of our distinguished alumni, Dr. Xiaohong Wang. Since earning her PhD in Chemistry, Dr. Wang has been working as a software engineer with Snap Inc. During her talk entitled “First Impression of Working in Industry- From Chemistry PhD Student to Engineer at Snap Inc.”, Dr. Wang outlined her professional journey and gave us a peek into her life as a Snap Inc. software engineer.

Dr. Wang earned her Bachelor’s degree in chemical physics from the University of Science and Technology of China. From there, she joined the Emory community and completed both her Master of Science in computer science and her Doctor of Philosophy in computational science in the Bowman Group before taking up her position at Snap, Inc.

Snap Inc.—makers of the popular “Snapchat” app—is a camera company founded in 2011 that believes “reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.” Snapchat is used by over 150 million people every day to connect with others all around the world. The company is constantly working to build and develop the best platform for communication and storytelling. Software engineers like Xiaohong contribute to this vision by evaluating the technical tradeoffs of decisions, performing code reviews, and building robust and scalable products.

The transition from chemistry to computer science, although seemingly a major change in profession, turned out to be quite a natural one for Dr. Wang. During her graduate studies in chemistry, she received training in numerical techniques, data analysis, programming, writing, and problem solving. These skills have proven to be invaluable for her engineering position with Snap, Inc., and she credits much of her success as a software engineer to the training she received during her time at Emory. For instance, during the interview process, Dr. Wang was asked to write a program on her own computer—something that came naturally thanks to her PhD work.

Perhaps more difficult than the change in profession was the transition from graduate school to industry. “There are many things we need to learn, like new techniques, how to communicate with managers and colleagues, and how to adjust our expectations,” Dr. Wang said. She explained that her current position relies heavily on teamwork and maintains a fast working pace in a way that is very different from graduate school. Xiaohong also shared that she is the only woman on her particular team at Snap, Inc. Overall, she finds the environment welcoming and has developed relationships with fellow women in tech.

Overall, while this transition from graduate school to industry required her to acquire a new set of skills and adapt to a new environment, Dr. Wang has hit her stride with the company. Having spent several months working on the company’s first piece of hardware, Spectacles that let users take photos directly from the frames, Dr. Wang said, “The launch of the product is really exciting for the whole team, the whole company, and I feel very proud to be part of it.”

The Emory Department of Chemistry is fortunate to have an amazing group of alumni who have gone on to pursue impressive careers in a variety of fields. The successes of these individuals remind us how capable we are of reaching our own goals and motivate us to continue chasing our dreams. Thank you to Dr. Wang for taking the time to visit Emory and share her journey with us!

This special seminar was made possible via support from the Emory Laney Graduate School Alumni Office.

Previously:

Ian Pavelich Awarded ARCS Fellowship

Ian Pavelich
Ian Pavelich

Ian Pavelich (Dunham Group) has been awarded an Advancing Science in America or ARCS Fellowship. The ARCS Foundation advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering and medical research. The awards are focused on helping researchers at the startup or “seed stage” of their work and discovery.

Ian’s project is titled “Molecular mechanisms of antibiotic tolerance.” “The project focuses on identifying the molecular mechanism for how pathogenic bacteria confer an antibiotic tolerance phenotype or behavior without the requirement for genetic mutations,” says Ian. “Currently, we’re attempting to identify how different stresses, like classes of antibiotics, activate different enzymes that trigger antibiotic tolerance.” The research has potential implications for the future of public health: “As modern medicine would be impossible without the use of antibiotics, further investigating these novel systems as potential new antimicrobial strategies is incredibly important.”

The ARCS Award is an unrestricted $7,500 award given directly to the scientist and may be renewed for up to three years. When asked how the ARCS Award will affect his work, Ian says: “I think that ARCS will provide a layer of flexibility in how we choose to answer the questions targeted by my research. I am extremely grateful that the ARCS committee granted me these funds, and with them I aim to expand the scope of my studies using more interdisciplinary approaches. I also plan to use funds to attend a range of diverse conferences.”

Outside the lab, Ian has been involved in outreach at Emory, working on a chemistry event during the annual Science Olympiad for area high school students that focused on fundamental gas laws and their quantitative uses. Ian’s ties to Emory go beyond chemistry, too. This month, his partner will be joining the Political Science Department graduate program at Emory: “we’ll be doing our PhDs side by side!”

Congratulations, Ian!

ChEmory Students Reflect on Attending the ACS Meeting in San Fransisco

ChEmory students pose at their booth during the ACS meeting in San Fransisco.
ChEmory students pose at their booth during the ACS meeting in San Fransisco.

For the past three years, the Department of Chemistry has been pleased to sponsor undergraduate travel to the annual American Chemistry Society meeting in San Fransisco for members of ChEmory, our undergraduate ACS club. The travel awards are generously funded by the J. Sam Guy Memorial Fund. Four students who attended this year share their reflections below:

Katie Woolard

As a chemistry major, it is always inspiring to attend the National ACS meeting whenever I can. This year I had the opportunity to network with other scientists and meet a few other students who are attending the same graduate program as I am in the fall. This year I took extra time to talk with vendors in the Expo Hall to better understand the machines that go into a lab as well as job opportunities at different chemical companies after graduate school. I always make a point to attend the Kavli Lectures, as they are interesting topics that are made  accessible to all knowledge levels through TED-talk style presentations. In addition to the Kavli Lectures, I took time to go to several talks on organic synthesis and natural product synthesis, as this is what I hope to focus on when I get to graduate school. These talks helped give me a better understanding of the chemistry that goes into these projects and fed my passion for research.

Jessica Southwell

I represented ChEmory at the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco. I enjoyed meeting students from other ACS chapters, and learning about their programs. I also had the opportunity to go to a few lectures including one on CRISPR and some in the LGBT* graduate symposium, which was a good intersection of chemistry and my sociology minor.

Lucas Man

The ACS conference was a good opportunity for me to speak with graduate school to which I received acceptance letters for more specific information that I could not get easily get off of the internet. In addition, I found the lecture from DOW on the state of the academic system, and their solution to the funding problem, to be enlightening. I also found the job fair interesting, even though none of the jobs ended up being a good fit. The job fair gave me insight to what jobs in industry look for and what day to day life in the workforce outside of academia was like. Getting the opportunity to see the city was also a great experience.

Daniel Salgueiro

Attending the ACS conference in San Diego was an eye-opening experience for me. The demo exchange allowed is to interact with other undergraduates to see how they implement outreach programs in their home town, and how many ways there are to visually demonstrate chemistry. Additionally, I was able to network with graduate school recruiters and learn what PHD and master’s program admissions are looking for in a candidate. However, I did more than just networking on this trip. I attended multiple lectures on hot new research topics, as well as lectures involving the intersectionality of one’s own identity and their research. All in all, it was an amazing experience where I learned about how integral chemistry is to our lives.