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.

Chemistry Major Michelle Stofberg Featured in ACS “Lab Tales” Book

Michelle Stofberg
Michelle Stofberg

Chemistry major Michelle Stofberg (EC ’17) is featured in a new book from the American Chemical Society, The Power and Promise of Early Research from the ACS Symposium Series. Michelle’s story about her first experiences in the lab appears in the chapter “Lab Tales: Personal Stories of Early Researchers.” Michelle describes her first encounters with laboratory research at Emory in her own words, including Introductory Chemistry II with Dr. Nichole Powell at Emory’s Oxford College and laboratory work with Brenda Harmon. Currently, Michelle is an undergraduate researcher in the Liebeskind Lab. Michelle was also a summer SURE researcher at Emory.

An excerpt from “Lab Tales”:

Sharing my research experiences with others helped me appreciate just how extraordinary these research opportunities were and reflect on how much I have learnt. As I explained before, a researcher studies unknowns. This task seemed rather daunting to me at first; however, I soon realized that there was something spectacular about delving into the unfamiliar. I saw the beauty of challenging the unknown and the joy of discovery. Of course, I do not mean discovery as a stagnant, completed act, but as a fluid, ongoing process. In other words, research is wonderful for it is a challenging process of understanding and learning. It challenges you to face your weaknesses and bolster your strengths; it forces you to consider the world through a different, inquisitive lens; it helps you realize your passions; and it lets you grow as a student and as an individual.
Congratulations, Michelle!
[Lab Tales] (subscriber access)

Photo Gallery: ChEmory Visits the Georgia Bureau of Investigation


ChEmory students visited the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday, October 26th. Asma Syed (EC ’19) provided the following report:

The forensics tour was a success: very informative, and great for recent Emory graduates majoring in chemistry looking for a job right out of college or just for people (like myself) really interested in learning more about the forensic sciences!

We were given a tour of the Division of Forensic Science where we learned about the most common illegal substances used in the Atlanta area. We were shown impressive sequencing machines, areas where TLC techniques were performed, and we learned about gas chromatography-mass spectrometry machines. We learned about the process involved with testing materials to determine the substance composition, the purity, and the age. We also learned a lot about the job application process and the training required to be a field agent. My personal favorite part of the tour was getting to see a recent case: we passed by a room with 2000 pounds of marijuana in bags that was being analyzed for prosecution purposes. 

Julia Gensheimer (EC ’19) Wins American Chemical Society T-Shirt Design Contest

The winning design!
The winning design!

Chemistry major Julia Gensheimer (EC ’19) won the 2016 American Chemical Society t-shirt design contest! Julia’s t-shirt will be produced and sold at the upcoming ACS national meeting in Philadelphia. Julia’s design was selected as one of six finalists and the winning design was chosen via online voting. Asked how she came up with her winning design, Julia said: “When the contest began, the chemical structures and lab techniques from a year of studying organic chemistry were fresh in my mind. Using ChemDraw, I created a simple design that I thought best represented the subject. It is exciting to share my love of chemistry with others through this t-shirt design and I am very thankful for the support!”

Thanks to all who voted. Congratulations, Julia!

[via ACS Matters]

Eilaf Egap is Named “Must-see” Presenter at the Upcoming ACS Meeting in Philadelphia

Eilaf Egap. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.
Eilaf Egap. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Chemical and Engineering News has named Eilaf Egap a “must-see” presenter for the upcoming American Chemical Society national meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in recognition of her exciting research “bending polymers to her will to make semiconducting devices.”

Eilaf will present “Alignment of conjugated polymer nanowires for electronic and optoelectronic applications” from 8:40am-9:00am on Sunday, August 21st.

Dr. Egap joined the Department of Chemistry faculty in Fall 2014. Last year, she received the Thieme Chemistry Journal Award in recognition of her scholarly promise. To learn more about her research, visit the Egap Group website.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Brian Hays (Widicus Weaver Group) Wins ACS Astrochemistry Dissertation Award

Brian Hays. Photo provided by Brian Hays.
Brian Hays. Photo provided by Brian Hays.

Brian Hays (Widicus Weaver Group) is honest when asked what it was like to write his dissertation. “The dissertation writing process was grueling,” he says. “I rewrote it several times and stayed up all night for many nights.” Developing the dissertation project was also a challenge. “There were a lot of challenges to getting the PhD, many of them experimental. Usually they involved something that had never been experienced before in the lab, and we would have to learn a new skill and apply it immediately to research.”

That hard work paid off. Brian successfully defended his thesis in April 2015 and in May 2016 he was announced as the winner of the American Chemical Society’s Astrochemistry Dissertation Award for 2016. The award is intended to promote the emerging discipline of Astrochemistry within the PHYS Division of the ACS by recognizing an outstanding recent Ph.D. thesis submitted by an Astrochemistry Subdivision member. Brian will receive a $500 award and will give an invited presentation at the August 2016 ACS Meeting in Philadelphia.

Speaking to Brian, it’s clear that hard work and challenges on the road to the dissertation were met with a spirit of discovery and determination. “It was always very exciting to dive into something new [ . . . ] I was looking forward to building an experiment from scratch.” “Something new” for Brian included the development of novel spectroscopic methods that increased scanning speed by almost 100 times, leading to faster results.  Mentoring support from advisor Susanna Widicus Weaver also made the journey towards the PhD easier. “Susanna was the person at Emory who most helped me towards getting the PhD,” says Brian. “Her mentoring and support is very important to me.”

Photo shows fluorescence from an excimer laser intersecting with molecular source inside a vacuum chamber with infrared beam path coming underneath in the Widicus Weaver Lab. Photo provided by Brian Hays.
Photo shows fluorescence from an excimer laser intersecting with molecular source inside a vacuum chamber with infrared beam path coming underneath in the Widicus Weaver Lab. Photo provided by Brian Hays.

The award-winning research that resulted is “primarily concerned with making and examining unstable molecules that may lead to prebiotic molecules in space.” The research relies on spectroscopic techniques that allow scientists to compare the results of an experiment to astronomical observations of star forming regions. “[We] see if we can make a molecule in the lab and detect it in space,” explains Brian. These techniques allow scientists to make informed observations about far-away regions of space from within the confines of the lab. For Brian, that didn’t completely rule out travel to places far, far away. He took advantage of Professional Development Support funds from the Laney Graduate School to perform astronomical observations in Hawaii.

Currently, Brian is a postdoctoral fellow at Purdue in the lab of Tim Zwier working on chirped pulse microwave spectroscopy. As in the PhD, Brian is seeking new capacities for existing tools “building up [Zwier’s] current instrument towards including mass spectrometry and towards new double resonance techniques.” Their next project will look at processes related to Titan’s atmosphere using these new techniques.

A theme of Brian’s dissertation and postdoctoral work seems to be the excitement he finds in new experiences, techniques, and questions. What does he find most exciting about what’s new and next for the field of astrochemistry? “I am most excited about the proliferation of rotational spectroscopy to more experiments in physical chemistry. This allows for a very high resolution picture of molecules that is state dependent and can be applied in a wide variety of experiments now, including those of astrophysical interest.”







ChEmory Students Reflect on the Recent American Chemical Society Meeting in Denver, Colorado

Members of chemistry’s ACS-award winning chemistry club, ChEmory, attended the ACS Meeting in Denver Colorado last month. The impressions, compiled by Kristoffer Leon, are shared below:

Juan Cisneros

Attending my first ever ACS national meeting was a rewarding and inspiring experience. Over the three days I spent in Denver I was able to attend several interesting talks, check out developing technologies for bench work and connect with people who share the same passions. The Kavli Series of talks proved the most interesting but the best was Dr. Paul Bryan’s on the Four Horsemen of the Advanced Biofuels Apocalypse – a realistic (pessimistic) view on the many barriers our development of biofuel dependence faces. Exploring the town proved to be fun as we tried some interesting food choices in between talks that were scattered across the city among the different hotels. At the chapter symposium we were also able to meet other ACS clubs and learn from each other – even meeting some nearby clubs such as the Georgia College chapter. I returned to Atlanta with many great memories and enthusiastic about my career as a chemist.

Katie Woolard        

The Denver ACS National Meeting was my third national meeting, and by far my favorite. I was able to talk with chemists in many different fields, including organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and environmental chemistry, as well as get more information about the idea of green chemistry. As an undergrad, I spent most of my time going to different plenary talks, many on environmental chemistry and drug development, but I also took advantage of the graduate school fair to look at options for grad school and other professional schools after graduation. The undergraduate poster session helped give me an idea of what poster sessions were like and helped prepare me for making my own poster, which I will be presenting later this semester at Emory. The national meetings are always inspiring and help keep me excited about chemistry.

Shruti Gupta

Because of my ability to attend ACS Denver 2015, I was able to present my research under Dr. Liotta to all the great chemists around America and even outside of America. I got great feedback on how to pursue my project, what I should do next, what I should focus on, etc. and I got to hear from chemistry legends who are revamping the way we view our society. This year’s theme was the chemistry of natural resources, and by going to this event, I got to learn about the true future of the official chemical society’s approach to dealing with the natural resource crisis, something that I would’ve otherwise never been able to be at the forefront of knowing on a deeper level. Apart from being able to present my research and learning so much about chemistry, this trip was an amazing opportunity to go to Denver and explore a different city with intellectuals all around to escape from traditional means of learning. It is definitely a weekend I will never forget and I am grateful to have had that opportunity through ChEmory.

Roger Tieu

Having the opportunity to present research and being able to network with individuals in your field is always exciting. After giving my talk and talking to graduate students and research coordinators, I was encouraged to contact these individuals who would be interested in taking me on in their university programs. Aside from presenting research, I was able to attend many fascinating talks presented by researchers at the forefront of chemistry research. Over the course of attending all these talks, I grew to become interested in glycochemistry and was able to talk to these researchers and ask them how I could become involved in projects after I graduate and enter research programs. Research aside, I had the opportunity to experience Denver by checking out the local restaurants as well as comedy shows. I also was able to get to know other students from Emory who were attending this conference. Overall, I had a phenomenal time in Denver at the ACS conference and would highly encourage students to take the time to fully explore what these ACS conferences have to offer.

Vincent Vartabedian

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to the American Chemical Society’s national convention in Denver, Colorado to present a chemical education poster. Over the past few years, I have served as an organic chemistry laboratory teaching assistant, working closely with Dr. Jose Soria to ensure that students learned experimental and analytical techniques in a safe environment. Our lab course, however, is different from typical introductory organic chemistry laboratory courses in that it aims to mimic a more realistic chemical research experience. For example, we encourage students to think independently, allowing them to deviate from the normally set-in-stone protocols found in typical courses. We also teach them how to interpret results of various analytical techniques.

Students nearing the end of their second semester in this organic chemistry laboratory course were divided into groups of four. In each group, one member was designated to be the undergraduate student, one the graduate student, one the post-doctoral fellow, and one the Principle Investigator. The undergraduate student was to complete a NaBH4 reduction. The graduate student was to complete the NaBH4 reduction with a chiral auxiliary (L-Tartaric acid) shown. The post-doctoral fellow was to complete the baker’s yeast reduction reaction. The PI assisted with analysis, determined what conclusions to report, and proposed a method for analyzing the enantio-selectivity of each reaction. All students were asked to provide reaction mechanisms, and collaboration within each group was encouraged. In order to make sure students only collaborated within their group, the assessment was set up as a competition, with the top group earning bonus points.

Prior to conducting their experiments, students were given protocols, but also were taught how to find relevant primary literature using Sci-finder; in particular, they were encouraged to find experimental techniques for NaBH4 reduction of ketones, enantioselective reduction of ketones via the use of chiral auxiliaries and other biochemical methods, and determination of enantio-selectivity.

Also, throughout the semester, students were exposed to thin-layer chromatography, column chromatography for purification, infra-red spectrometry for product analysis, and NMR for product analysis.

During experimentation, teaching assistants were available to assist with instrumentation, reaction set-up, and as a source of reagents. Because this was an assessment, they were not allowed to help with data interpretation, and students were to approach teaching assistants with questions.

Presenting this work was exciting, as my poster attracted the attention of multiple professors, one of which requested Dr. Soria’s email address so that he could correspond with him about implementing this style of assessment in his course.

In addition to the poster presentation, the ACS convention gave me a great opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of chemical fields. For example, I attended talks about applied bio-chemistry, natural products chemistry, and chemistry relating to the immune system. Through these talks, I had multiple networking opportunities. The most exciting of which, for me, was the opportunity to speak with Dr. Jim Paulson, the president of The Scripps Research Institute, the best research institute in the United States of America.

Overall, my trip to the ACS’s natural convention was productive and enjoyable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend.

Chemistry Hosts Alumni Reception at ACS 2013

A reception was held at the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia on Monday August 20th during the Fall ACS Meeting. In attendance were Dean of the Laney Graduate School, Lisa Tedesco, numerous current students, staff and faculty members. We were especially happy to catch up with Benjamin Blass (90C), Anne Gorden (96C), Hao Li (09G), Philip May (10C), Brooke Rosenzweig (03C), Renee and Jonathan Zung (91G), David Primer (12C), Geraint Davies (12C), Stephanie Ovalles Hansen (11G) and Jorn Hansen (10G), Dave Stockwell (10G).

ChEmory Receives Outstanding Chapter Award

Emory’s undergraduate chemistry club, ChEmory, was awarded the “Outstanding Chapter Award” by the American Chemical Society (ACS) for its 2012-2013 activities. This places Emory’s chapter in the top most category of student ACS chapters across the country. Congratulations, ChEmory!