The ACS National Meeting in April was one of the most significant trips I have been on, and by far the largest conference I have attended. I presented my poster, attended fascinating research talks, and networked with chemistry professionals.
Presenting my poster yielded some interesting discussions with the people who stopped by — mostly other computational chemistry professionals, in fact. One evaluated me for the poster award, and he even one-upped me by knowing the directions of the transition dipole moments of indole, which I did not. Presenting to him was a good experience, because it was fun to walk through my entire project. Another professional said that if we could find a successful functional with TD-DFT, perhaps we could eventually publish our results. Talking to other students gave me an idea of how vastly different research topics could be within the domain of computational chemistry.
I went to some great talks. I heard Harry Gray present on Solar Fuels, using catalysts inspired by plant photosystems, giving me a paper topic for my bioinorganic chemistry class. Later I got to hear the big talk on CRISPR, the gene-editing process and its potential implications in our lives. There were a lot of other good talks, but some less than inspiring ones — I heard someone present his graduate research on organic dyes for solar cells, a topic I was familiar with, but I was bored by his lack of passion. However, most of the talks were given with enthusiasm and depth.
Networking was an interesting experience. The career fair got me out of my comfort zone and helped me practice speaking with people in a professional environment. At a speed networking workshop, I talked to a lot of retired chemistry professionals, which was not as useful, because they had only generalized advice to give me and no real leads. Nonetheless, I became more confident in myself after the networking experiences I had at the Meeting.
A cool thing that happened was that I got to speak with the tech support at Gaussian about our research group’s problem with the Gaussian software — the confusion issue with excited state optimizations — and he gave me a few ideas to try. They haven’t worked so far, but they at least gave us something to move us forward on the issue and identify what does not work. I remain hopeful that we will resolve this issue with the software.
Other than that, Kristine and I got to explore the city a bit and walk on the Golden Gate Bridge. Can’t beat the view from there! I hope I get to go on a similar trip in the future.