American Chemical Society Meeting

Four Chemistry Department professors recently led a group of five students and recent graduates to the 250th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Boston to show them a glimpse of all the powerful work being done in their chosen profession.
Merrimack News

There were as many as 9,000 presentations and reports given among the roughly 13,500 chemists who attended, including three by Merrimack’s representatives. “It’s important for students in their preparation for careers (that) they get to see how chemists operate,” professor Anthony Fernandez said. “Just to see how chemistry is being done and the research being done is inspiring to students.”

Fernandez attended with assistant professors Brian Provencher and Jimmy Franco and lecturer Brenda Zwickau; as well as students Shareef Kotb, Kristin Kazzi, Brian Ayotte, Justin Brewster and Aaron Maurais. Maurais graduated this year and is starting this fall to work toward a doctorate in chemistry at Boston College.

The conference is a comfortable introduction for students to the chemistry profession, said Fernandez who went to the conference as an undergraduate when it was held in San Francisco in 1992. “They do a great job of incorporating undergraduates into the fabric of the meeting,” he said.

Franco presented on the use of inhibitors for the potential treatment of tuberculosis. Fernandez gave a report on the use of crystal structure data to teach fundamental concepts in inorganic chemistry.

Maurais ’15, who majored in biochemistry, took part in a poster presentation that he worked on with Franco and assistant professor Charlotte Berkes identifying novel inhibitors for the treatment of histopasmosis.

Maurais had previous experience at undergraduate conferences but the society conference was a new experience.

“What was a little different was having professors come see (the poster) and what I really enjoyed was getting to see top end professors give talks and see their research,” he said.

During his oral presentation, Fernandez explained how he makes use of Cambridge Structural Database’s library of structures of molecules determined by x-ray diffraction during his classes.

“I use a freely available curated set of experimentally determined crystal structures to teach fundamental concepts in my sophomore-slash-junior level inorganic chemistry course,” Fernandez said.

The society is 140 years old and holds two meetings a year. The spring 2016 meeting is scheduled to be in San Diego in March.



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