Weston Kitley ’13
The last two years I have done research in Dr. Wysocki’s Lab Group. While researching fluorescent probes, the group has had some success. Consequently, we were able to participate in the national American Chemical Society Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here some 20,000 scientists and students come to one central location to share ideas, help each other and present their research in hopes to educate and collaborate with others. Our group and Dr. Porters group both were funded to join in the convention, and were able to participate in such a grand opportunity of learning.
We arrived, the nine of us, on Saturday evening and settled into our hotel in downtown New Orleans. The next day, I briefly walked around New Orleans before heading to one of many talks I would attend while in New Orleans. Also, we as a group, were able to attend Wabash College Alum Geoffrey Coates talk. In the evening, we gave our presentation for the Organic Chemistry section, which lasted until around Ten o’clock at night. On Monday morning I attended a few talks on medicinal Chemistry, and at noon gave a presentation for the Undergraduate portion of the convention. That afternoon was also the exposition, where many scientific companies gather to demonstrate new products, and attempt to sell their product to the many chemists. Basically, they give out various free trinkets to gather attention. That evening, we were lucky enough to present one more time in the SciMix section of the convention. The SciMix section is a huge poster section in which people of all chemical disciplines gather to “check-out” other fields.
Why was this a good opportunity? It gave my fellow students and me an opportunity to view research in some fields we find ourselves interested. It was fascinating, and in many ways grounding due to some of the complex research being conducted. I have attended many talks since attending Wabash College, and many sadly had research above my head. Now, having completed, or nearly completed, my time here at Wabash College I am able to follow the presentations and research. I have gained an ability to understand complex concepts and analyze others findings for myself. Attending the New Orleans conference gave us all this opportunity, as well as an opportunity to meet people who some of us may work with some day. Finally, it gives us invaluable experience at presenting our research to those more advanced and less advanced in their chemical knowledge. I am extremely grateful to the funding granted to us, which allows students to attend such conferences. It provides opportunities that many students do not get, but drastically need. Attending a school that funds these endeavors makes all the difference in students making the next step to Graduate Schools. To all those who made this possible, I thank you.
David Wintczak ’14
This year’s Chemistry Department ACS trip was an excellent experience. First of all, I had a great opportunity to present the research I conducted alongside Ronnie Sullivan last summer. It was something that I really enjoyed at the time and also enjoyed sharing with others. The best part of this, to me, was when a researcher who was conducting similar research came up to my poster. She was fascinated by the work that we had done and was actually going to use some of the ideas we used in her future research. It was an excellent feeling having graduate students and professionals in the field be so interested in the research I conducted as an undergrad.
In addition to presenting, I was able to sit in on several presentations that allowed me to learn a lot about some very interesting topics. I hope to attend pharmacy school after Wabash and was able to sit on several talks regarding new methods on drug manufacturing and applications. My favorite talk was entitled “Teaching a Gold Drug New Tricks.” In addition to a clever play on words, it was a fascinating talk on how gold catalysts were beginning to be used in this field.
All presentations aside, New Orleans was a very interesting city. If you walked around Bourbon Street for five minutes, you were guaranteed to see something you’ve never seen before. The city has a unique culture and a plethera of great food. I am thankful for presenting, learning, and all the great food that I was able to enjoy thanks to our Chemistry Department. Trips like these are just another reason why Wabash is great.
Edward Evans ’13
The trip to 245th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans was very enlightening and helped me put many aspects of research into perspective. I listened to chemists, physicists, and engineers provide presentations on solar cell, CO2 sequestration, and nanomaterials research. For the solar cell research, some graduate students showcased experimental and theoretical work pertaining to the use of quantum dots in thin films to induce better electron excitation, how different crystalline structure can result in a significant difference in current flow, and different materials that are more compatible with the photons from the sun. I witnessed discussions on CO2 sequestration that sought to preserve the reactivity of amines and that provided more efficient CO2 capture with the use of copper. Despite how intrigued I am by the above research, the most exciting presentation I attended was by Dr. Halas from Rice University on steam generation by nanoparticles using solar energy. She had the full experience of chemically and also following it through by applying it to the real-world, seeking to implement her findings in countries that do not have clean water readily accessible. Her presentation summed up many of my motivations in conducting research in order to make the world better. Furthermore, I appreciate all the different approaches to attack very similar issues. The world is in the midst of environmental and energy crises. Each presentation I attended provided a completely different approach to tackling this issue. This enabled great discussion after the presentations and allowed the researchers to exchange constructive criticism and enlightening feedback that will help them progress further in their respective projects. The quality and quantity of idea-sharing I witnessed was great to see and resonated with my Wabash experience.
Moreover, I was able to attend a networking event in which I was able to talk to current graduate students and fellow undergraduate researchers. I met people in an array of disciplines, talking to chemists, physicists, engineers, lawyers, councilors, etc. They all gave insightful advice that I hope to incorporate as I head into graduate school. Most significantly, I learned the importance of branding myself and keeping my ideas fresh. This will help me retain interest in whatever discipline I pursue. Furthermore, I caught up to a professor that I may be working with in graduate school and initiated a summer opportunity, so I can start before the fall semester. Although I have attended other conferences, my experience at the ACS conference was truly eye-opening. The knowledge I gained from it is invaluable, and I am excited to network and to encourage idea-sharing and discussion on research in graduate school.