Chemical exposure: Chemistry symposium brings U international attention

Well-known pioneers of organic chemistry converged on the U campus June 12-16 after more than two years of planning and collaboration.

The 39th National Organic Chemistry Symposium presented a unique opportunity for organic chemists to hear from 14 highly distinguished speakers, network within the field and also present their work in a poster competition.

“(The symposium) is incredibly beneficial,” said Kristin Galie, a first-year U graduate student in organic chemistry and poster-competition participant. “You get to meet the people whom you hear about and study instead of just reading their papers.”

Jon Rainier, associate professor and local chairman for the symposium, said that the U was chosen from several other universities to host the conference because of the “excellent conference services and strong chemistry program.”

Rainier also said the conference would provide valuable exposure for U students and professors alike.

Running until midnight each night, the poster competition was the main event and facilitated one-on-one interaction between students, researchers, professors and professionals by allowing them to display their research and examine other research projects in the field.

Out of 440 poster competition entries, approximately 100 were from the U.

All of the posters presented at the symposium dealt with organic chemistry, but some of the posters highlighted research in bioengineering and medical and chemical engineering.

Since the symposium was held on the U campus, many U students who otherwise would not have been able to attend were given an opportunity to participate in the biennial conference, Galie said.

Scientists presented cutting-edge research on many topics, including anti-HIV components and ways of more efficiently producing chemical materials and creating pharmaceutical drugs.

“The conference is a good opportunity to show your work to the international community (of chemists),” said Pauline Stanislawski, a third-year graduate student at the Australian National University. “The United States is at the forefront of organic chemistry, and a lot of this work hasn’t been published yet.”

Jerrold Meinwald, faculty member at Cornell University and recipient of the Roger Adams Award from the American Chemical Society, and U faculty member Matthew Sigman were two of the distinguished presenters who attended the symposium.

The conference was also an opportunity for the U campus to gain international recognition.

Mianji Zhang, post-doctoral student at the University of Kansas, said that he had been unaware of the U’s existence until attending the symposium. He also said that by the end of the conference, he started to enjoy himself.

“Utah is cool. I like it here,” Zhang said.

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