Rideal Travel Bursar Karen Wilson reports from the ACS Fall 2010 National Meeting and Exposition in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, USA from 22-26 August 2010:
My oral presentation was entitled 'Understanding the surface chemistry of enantioselective β-ketoester hydrogenation reactions over amino acid-modified Ni catalysts' and discussed the use of (S)-Aspartic acid as a potential chiral modifier molecule. The presentation covered the relevance of our work in a catalytic sense by using a combination of vacuum and liquid phase studies to identify species present on the Ni surface throughout different stages of the catalyst modification. Part of this work was published in 2009 in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. To meet other delegates who were genuinely interested in my research was inspiring and the feedback and discussions were invaluable, as was the experience itself.
Many well-respected surface scientists were present at the symposia I attended. Names such as Prof G Somorjai, Prof R Lambert, Prof A Gellman, Prof F Zaera, Prof W Tysoe and Prof G Attard, all of whom have produced world class research in my academic field, gave interesting presentations, and updated us on the latest developments. The symposium organised in honour of Prof R Lambert from University of Cambridge, in which my presentation was included, covered many areas of catalysis research from heterogeneous C=C and C=O catalysis to enantioselective chiral modification. Prof Lambert was also the recipient of the Langmuir Award and gave an interesting presentation in honour of this on catalytic chemistry and self-assembly on metal surfaces.
Over the five-day conference my eyes were opened to several new potential paths to investigate further with my PhD work, and I feel I gained the motivation and belief to pursue them. The talk was well received and also gave me confidence in presenting to large and diverse audiences. I believe the ACS has been the most useful conference I have attended so far in my research career as it was organised in a way to allow me to attend the most relevant presentations to my work, and also provided the rare opportunity to meet many academics whose work I follow and thus initiate contacts for the future.
My research group, although all at different stages in their research, were very keen to hear about my experiences at the ACS. I hope that my positive response, as well as the experience of the oral presentation, will encourage similar forays within the group and allow our research to reach a wide audience.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at what was my first international conference. The diversity of the oral program allowed me to attend talks of great interest and I hope will result in the fruition of new ideas in my research. To be able to meet world-class researchers who I have so far only encountered through their journal articles was an invaluable opportunity and gave me several potential contacts for the future. To also incorporate my first visit to the USA in this trip was a real opportunity and I enjoyed seeing all that the beautiful city of Boston had to offer. I would like to thank SCI for awarding me the Rideal Travel Bursary and making this experience possible.
Karen Wilson, University of St Andrews.