Thank you, Salt Lake City!
Apr06

Thank you, Salt Lake City!

Looking through the hundreds of photos I took during the national meeting in Salt Lake City, I couldn't help but think how fast the week went by. I certainly had fun. Here are some of my favorite moments: Original music by Ivan Amato/C&EN. This movie requires Flash Player 9 See you in Washington,...

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Show Me The Money
Mar24

Show Me The Money

NSF Chemistry Division Director Luis Echegoyen announced a proposed sweeping realignment of the division’s chemistry programs at the foundation’s ACS Town Hall meeting on Monday evening in Salt Lake City. During the Q&A that followed Echegoyen’s presentation, all anyone wanted to ask about was the $3 billion NSF will receive as part of the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus package. “Most of what I am at liberty to talk about on the stimulus, you already know,” Echegoyen told the packed house at the outset of his presentation. Didn’t matter. The first question Echegoyen took after his presentation was, “Will the stimulus allow anything that has been canceled to be revived?” Six or seven more questions on the stimulus followed. Before he adjourned the session, Echegoyen asked, “Does anyone have anything to say about the realignment?” No one seemed to. The goal of the proposed changes, Echegoyen said in his presentation, is to realign the chemistry division “to guarantee that the very best projects in research, education, training, and infrastructure development are supported and to anticipate and respond to new developments in chemistry.” The new structure would abandon the traditional program delineations such as the “Organic and Macromolecular Program” and the “Physical Chemistry Program.” In their place would be eight new programs in the following areas: Chemical Synthesis Chemical Structure, Dynamics & Mechanisms Chemical Measurement & Imaging Theory, Models & Computational Methods Environmental Chemical Sciences Chemistry of Life Processes Chemical Catalysis “This represents a substantial departure from the current structure,” Echegoyen noted, adding that the only word that survives from the old structure to the new is “theory.” The Chemistry Division handed out a nifty brochure that describes each of the proposed new programs. It doesn’t look like it is available yet on the division’s website, but I’m sure someone will send you one if you ask. You can submit comments about the proposed realignment to chemplans@nsf.gov. Photo: Madeleine Jacobs (left), Ronald Breslow (center), and Luis Echegoyen at the ACS Town Hall meeting. Credit: Rudy...

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Small World
Mar24

Small World

I’m not sure what drew me to Marilyn Mackiewicz’ poster during Sci-Mix tonight, but there I was firing off a rapid succession of photos while she explained her research to a passerby. You might say it was fate, because when she finished her presentation, she looked straight into my lens and asked, “Did you go to Texas A&M?” Stunned, I put my camera down and asked, “Do we know each other?” Marilyn reminded me that we had met at a bus stop in 2001 while I was a second-year master’s student in science journalism and she was a first-year doctoral student in chemistry. That day, I had been on my way to visit the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, in College Station, and I spontaneously invited Marilyn to join me. We became instant friends, meeting up often for lunch and even going to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July. We lost touch after I graduated and moved to Washington, D.C. At Sci-Mix tonight, Marilyn told me that I had befriended her at a time when she needed a friend the most. She often told people about me, she said. I had never known that.  We both noted how we’ve achieved our goals: I’m a professional science writer, and she’s a postdoc in chemistry at Portland State University. I didn’t recognize her name at first because she has since gotten married and changed her last name. I, too, will be getting married this fall. I’m glad I was drawn to Marilyn's poster tonight. You might say it was fate, but I say it's chemistry. Me (left) and my old...

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Four Minutes And Forty-Seven Seconds Of Fame
Mar23

Four Minutes And Forty-Seven Seconds Of Fame

Jeremy D. Leavell had been standing at his poster on crystallography for an hour and eight minutes when I came across him at the undergraduate poster session this afternoon. Most students I had talked with had between five and six people stop by their posters. Some students excitedly told me they had explained their work to around 20 people. But for Jeremy, not a single person had stopped by his poster the entire time he had been standing there—and there was only 20 minutes left in the poster session. Jeremy noted that one girl had stopped by, glanced at his poster, and then continued on. “I didn’t even get a chance to present it to her,” he said. He still counts that as half a visitor. It’s understandable why more people hadn’t stopped by, said Jeremy, who is a senior biochemistry major at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Research on crystallography can be a bit obscure. I wanted to give Jeremy, who is attending his first ACS national meeting, an opportunity to present his poster, and what better audience than C&EN readers? “Now I’ve just one-upped everyone,” he...

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Photogenic Salt Lake City
Mar23

Photogenic Salt Lake City

Saturday afternoon was the one significant block of free time I had during the week I am spending in Salt Lake City. It was a glorious spring day, sunny and breezy with the temperatures in the upper 60s, so I took a walk with my camera. Realistic bronze sculptures of people, often children, are scattered throughout the city. This one of a boy and a girl at the base of a flagpole sits in front of the city’s impressive city hall, the tower of which appears in the background. The inscription reads: “Erected as a tribute to our nation’s constitution and flag by the school children of Salt Lake City AD 1936-37." “Eagle Gate” spans State St. as it begins its climb up to the State Capitol Building. In the background is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Office Building, one of the largest office buildings in Salt Lake City. The arches of the gate are irresistible frames for the backdrop of the city. The Capitol Building houses the state senate and house of representatives as well as the state supreme court. It sits on a hilltop overlooking the city about a mile and a half north of downtown. Temple Square is the heart of Salt Lake City. Two of the impressive buildings surrounding the beautifully landscaped square are the Mormon Temple (left) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Office Building (right). There are many bronze sculptures in the square, including this delightful tableau: What a difference two days makes! Two photos of City Hall taken from my hotel room, one on Saturday and one on Monday, during a significant snow...

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National Meeting Sugar-High
Mar22

National Meeting Sugar-High

With goggles too big for their heads, and chocolate smudged on their tiny faces, hundreds of elementary school kids learned chemistry the fun way. The outreach event took place this afternoon at the Discovery Gateway Museum in Salt Lake City. In one activity, kids learned how chocolate can neutralize acids. In another, kids learned how chocolate milk contains more electrolytes than Gatorade. Student affiliate groups led the various experiments. Here are some highlights of this afternoon's Chocolate Fest, a presidential outreach event organized by the ACS Office of Community Activities and the Committee on Community Activities.    This little girl is examining her pH paper after dipping it in a solution containing chocolate and vinegar. These boys are doing the same pH expriment using chocolate and vinegar. This girl is putting the finishing touches on a white chocolate rose. These girls are sniffing for chocolate through the balloons. This girl draws up vinegar using a pipette. This boy is testing various liquids, including chocolate milk, for...

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