My First ACS National Meeting Experience

Graduate School Networking Fair, 253rd ACS National Meeting
Photo by Blake Aronson

Almost 19,000 people attended the 253rd ACS National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco from April 2–6, 2017, and over 3,000 of them were undergraduates. National meetings give students a chance to show off their work, develop their professional skills, and meet with chemical professionals.

For many, the experience is life-changing. Read on to find out how the meeting left an unforgettable impression on three students.

Sar Oo, Craven Community College

There is an unbelievable amount of research presented by many students at ACS meetings. I attended the undergraduate oral session on April 2, and as I was listening to undergraduate student Janice Bautista, I was intrigued by the research process that she and her team had to go through. Bautista’s group studied genes related to acute lymphoblastic leukemia of T-cells in the chromosomal region 8q24. Even though I couldn’t decipher half of the material she discussed in her presentation, Bautista left such a big impression on me, I now want to start my own research project.

I will be transferring to a four-year school this coming fall, so attending the oral session and learning from many talented students helped me better understand the research process and encouraged me to move forward with my interest in research.

Today, the world is filled with issues in every direction, and I believe that science can solve many of these problems. I think that undergraduates who share their science research are helping to find solutions to global problems while inspiring and motivating the current and the upcoming generations to do the same. I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend the oral presentation because it truly has prepared me for the next step.

Cesar Aparcicio, Garden City Community College

Experiencing chemistry outside of a textbook is how I describe my first ACS conference. Every student majoring in chemistry should have a chance to attend this massive event. I never expected chemistry to be such a broad field, and this conference helped me learn about many different aspects of chemistry.

I had serious doubts about choosing chemistry as a major. I used to picture chemistry as sitting in a lab for hours just mixing chemicals. Those doubts increased as I kept glancing more into the future. Plus, chemistry was becoming less attractive as I had to memorize many reactions. After attending graduate school talks at the ACS national meeting in San Francisco, I’m convinced that I’ve made the right choice. I now know that there are a variety of options for me to combine my skills in chemistry with other disciplines, which means I can end up with a career that I am going to enjoy.

Along with majoring in chemistry, I was also concerned about applications and resumes to get into school or apply for a scholarship or an internship. The most valuable aspect of the grad school session was the face-to-face interaction with professors who are members of review committees. I learned that obtaining a B does not mean I have to retake a class in order to get into grad school or be accepted into an internship program. And if I have a bad semester, there are ways to compensate, like taking exams that will verify my knowledge of a subject.

I always thought that schools wanted us to be like robots, but all the professors assured me that they understood that we are human, that sometimes we make mistakes, but what they really want to know is  that we are capable of learning how to fix those errors.

Speed Networking with Professionals, 253rd ACS National Meeting
Photo by Natasha Bruce

Julie Montoya, Garden City Community College

Coming from a school of just 2,000 students, attending the ACS conference was a big deal for me and my classmates. We weren’t sure what to expect, so attending “Making the Most of the ACS National Meeting” session helped ease our minds a bit. It gave us insight into what to expect throughout the weekend while giving us questions, most notably, “Why are you here?”

While learning about chemistry, networking, and presenting research are obvious reasons, the answer for me was to learn something about myself and challenge myself by conducting a research project. I was very happy for the opportunity to network and meet new people who are as passionate as I am about similar subjects, and I’m so grateful to have had those moments.

I thought that presenting my poster was going to be the most nerve-wracking aspect of the meeting. But once I started discussing my research with people, it felt more like talking to a colleague about something I cared about and worked hard for. I was able to answer questions easily, and the people I met were extremely friendly. I even got a chance to meet a professor who told me all about his experience attending my college, along with several students who attend the University of Kansas, the school I will be attending this fall. I was able to ask them questions about their chemistry program and get some information about the chemistry club on campus.

Along with the poster session, I met so many new faces at the undergraduate social, and will definitely keep close contact with some of them.

I think in addition to learning more about chemical subjects, hearing about the experiences of my peers at the ACS San Francisco meeting really helped me make the most out of this opportunity. It was a strong start to the many research-related projects I hope to be doing in the future.