ACS & You

Enjoying #ACSSanFran National Meeting to the Fullest

The ACS spring national meeting in San Francisco, CA, is just around the corner, and as a proud member of the Fresno State University student chapter and the San Joaquin Valley local section, I’m here to bring you the scoop on how to make the most of your national meeting adventure.

I’ve got a few national meetings under my belt. Trust me — you don’t want to miss out! There are so many life-changing opportunities for undergraduates, but navigating through the various activities can be daunting. So I have a few tips and highlights to make your experience fun, meaningful, and smooth.

Sessions, lectures & workshops

First and foremost, check out the undergraduate program and the program guide for details on events that are specially tailored for college students. This is your go-to guide on undergraduate research sessions, grad school and professional skills workshops, career networking, and social activities.

ACS volunteers and staff design the undergraduate program to support you professionally, academically, and personally. On the technical and scientific front, you’ll get to hear about the latest in carbon nanotubes, the chemistry of fermented beverages, CRIPSR systems in genome engineering, and the research your peers are doing. Also, you’ve got to check out eminent scientist Carolyn Bertozzi talk about how she got past failures and dead ends in her career to end up at the top of the biochemistry field. To learn about where to find accurate reporting on science and other topics in the constantly evolving media landscape (and yes, there is such a thing as “fake news”!), go hear a presentation by Yvette D’Entremont (aka SciBabe).

As far as workshops go, you can choose to learn the nuts and bolts of the grad school application process, how to communicate science effectively, or the best ways to network.

Student talks to graduate school recruiter
Student talks to graduate school representative at a Graduate School Recruiting Fair.
Photo by Natasha Bruce

Stay Connected!

Here's how to keep track of everything at nationanl meeting:

  • Get the ACS National Meeting app
  • Follow #ACSUndergrad on Twitter and Facebook

Friend the cool folks you meet, talk about what you have seen and done, and always share when you have encountered Professor Molenium or Meg A. Mole!


If you get lost or stuck, you can always hit the Hospitality Center at the Marriott Marquis (Salon 7) to get information, direction, or updates.

There’s much, much more outside of the undergraduate program that you can take advantage of. Swing by the expo to explore who’s who in the world of chemistry companies. They’ll be showcasing everything from instruments and scientific software to an array of chromatographic, lab, and safety equipment. And you’ll probably be able to snag some really cool giveaways!

I encourage you to stretch your boundaries and attend at least one technical talk in the regular session (see the Technical Program). Whether you’re interested in environmental projects studying components of atmospheric particles for air quality, or in the synthesis of organometallic catalysts in protein interactions, there are plenty of 20-minute technical talks to explore and dig deeper into what you love about chemistry. Some of these topics may seem a little over your head this early in your career, but what better way to find out how the pros work? You may even meet a researcher who you can reach out to, or a topic to study further.

Professional development & networking

The undergraduate program features some wonderful professional development workshops. If you’re interested in graduate school, want to learn how to network, or you’re looking for tips on how to better communicate chemistry, these sessions keep you engaged with what you need to know to be successful.

Speaking of grad school and networking, the Speed Networking Social with Professionals and the Networking Social with Graduate School Recruiters are critical! These events are really worth going to, even for a half hour when you’re between talks. Meeting companies and schools helps you know what to expect when it’s time to apply for a job or grad school, and you also get to meet the folks you could be working with in the future.

Who knows: you may come across an extraordinary opportunity, just by participating! To name just one example, a member from my student chapter who attended the ACS San Diego meeting last year obtained a summer research experience in Virginia. Also, because you’re a student member of ACS, these people want to meet you. After all, you may be their next employee (or employer), graduate student, or peer.

Students pose at Chem Demo Exchange
Students at the 2016 San Diego National Meeting Chem Demo Exchange.

Another great way to mingle and network is at Sci-Mix, where you can see successful student chapter posters. Chapter members will be talking about the ways in which they engaged their community to spread the word about how awesome chemistry is. The creativity behind some of their projects is incredible. You can also get tips and inspiration to share with your student chapter or local section. At Sci-Mix, there will also be plenty of people from various chemistry divisions giving posters with whom you can geek about chemistry.

If your student chapter helped you travel to the national meeting, they are probably involved in at least one event. Stop by the Chem Demo Exchange to see chapters perform their favorite demos.

Chapter awards ceremony & social

The ACS Student Chapter Awards ceremony and Undergraduate Social on Sunday, April 2, are can’t-miss events! You get to dive right into the large community of students who have dedicated a lot of time and effort into engaging people on campus and in the community about the wonders of chemistry. Not only will there be fellow students who want to dish on all things chemistry, but you’ll also get to see and hear highlights of everyone’s accomplishments over the past year.

Get involved

Included in the fun are some superb opportunities to gain professional experience and give back — both to the American Chemical Society and to your student chapter. You can volunteer to help introduce speakers, field questions, or do a variety of behind-the-scenes activities that keep everything running smoothly. It’s yet another way get to know other students from across the nation on a one-on-one basis, as well as ACS staff. Plus, you can score some #ACSSwag just by volunteering at workshops you’re interested in!

See you in San Fran!

About the Author
Annabelle Lolinco

Annabelle Lolinco
Annabelle Lolinco is a member of the ACS student chapter at Fresno State University and the San Joaquin Valley local section.