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Last day to blog. I woke up later than planned but I made it to the morning plenary lecture anyway.  Then I attended sessions in the organic chemistry and educational chemistry areas, including Steve Meyer’s presentation on the GREET program. In the afternoon there was a workshop for university professors and each team had to discuss different aspects of how to deal with student issues such as turning in late assignments, talking in class, and inattentiveness in class.  It was interesting to hear the different perspectives presented by university professors from many countries.  It seems that similar student issues arise no matter where the location of the school. The last ACS awardee presented today, Kristen Brown.  Due to presentations starting earlier since someone before her was a no show, I only got to hear 2/3 of her presentation, but she did a great job.  She had more questions (4) than any other presentation I attended and she fielded the questions well. 

Several of us went out for lunch at Maestro restaurant in Old Town and then we did some more shopping. We all returned to hear the final plenary lecture by Professor Grubbs and then the closing ceremony.  It was great to see that several research awards for the European Young Chemists were granted to women. 

Then 7 of us went out for dinner and back to the hotel.  This has been a wonderful experience for me – I will have lots of good memories.  Good food, friends, and fun in a beautiful city – Prague!  Thank you to ACS and to Steve Meyers and Madeleine Jacobs for awarding me this wonderful opportunity!!  ACS rocks!!!

The day began with the plenary lecture by Roger Tsien, 2008 Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of the green fluorescent protein.  This was a phenomenal lecture and a lot of work toward imaging has been done to make cancer surgeries more successful.  Then I heard some educational lectures involving the teaching of chemistry, and some lectures in the life science and analytical chemistry areas, along with a talk about the challenges for green chemistry.  Darci Trader’s talk followed, and she did a phenomenal job – she is a very polished speaker.  During lunch the employees from Evonik and EYCN helped us with a curriculum clinic with tips on job applications, using social network sites to search for jobs, and reviewing our CVs.  I learned a more proper method to organizing my education and work history.  I will revise my CV and email it to one of the EYCN people who said he would critique it again.

We also met up with Madeleine Jacobs again for a 5pm cocktail at the Corinthia hotel.  She took our group picture on the bridge between the Congress Hotel and Corinthia Hotel and put it on Twitter.  I will now have to log onto Twitter so I can see the photo.  She is always interesting to talk to and takes a genuine interest in the ACS members, which is really nice. 

During the evening we took a boat trip along the river and had dinner on the boat.  The food was wonderful and it was fun socializing with the EYCN chemists and the chemists from the Colorado group. I took a lot of people photos on the boat. 

Later several of us went dancing at a club with an ice bar – I did not go to the ice bar but did a lot of dancing with the group.  Some of the music is the same as they play back in Illinois at the places where I go dancing with friends.  But this place had a smaller dance floor and was more crowded than I am used to.  Some of the EYCN guys are great dancers! 

Today our group met people at the US Embassy to discuss funding and scholarship opportunities for research abroad in the Czech Republic.  Then we ate lunch, did some shopping at a mall called Palladium (a mall with an element name – how cool is that!!), and returned to the convention center to view the poster presentations.  Many of the students did very impressive work and some had only been pursuing their Ph.D.s for one year.  One poster was detailing research on photodynamic therapy (PDT), so I talked to this student for a while, since my project is also involving PDT.  He is working on a photosensitizer (PS) using a core of phthalocyanines that had been derivatized with alkyl groups containing a N atom as well as a S atom to create a more water soluble system.  He also tested three types of derivatized phthalocyanines – one with Mg metal coordinating with N atoms of the core system, one with Zn metal coordinating with N atoms of the core system, and one reacted with HCl to remove the Mg metal and bond two H atoms to the N atoms of the core system.  He tested the singlet oxygen quantum yield and fluorescence yield with the PS dissolved in DMF and also used DMF as the solvent for testing the maximum wavelength absorption which was about 700 nm.  The Zn coordinated to the N atoms of the core system yielded the highest quantum yield of singlet oxygen. 

I am looking forward to tomorrow morning’s plenary session – the speaker is Roger Tsien who won the 2008 Nobel Prize for his work with the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). I studied this work extensively since I took a cumulative exam on it back in October, 2008 during my first year of graduate studies. 

We started out the day with a breakfast at the Corinthia Hotel with Madeleine Jacobs who discussed chemistry careers, her personal story in great and fascinating detail, and the importance of gaining leadership skills and networking to move ahead in our chosen careers.  Ms. Jacobs told us she would even set aside time in her busy schedule to personally talk to us if we would like.  Now that is something you do not see too often by people who are CEOs of companies. I think other companies can learn from her example to take time to really listen and help their employees (or in this case members).  Then on to the conference to hear the plenary talks, oral presentations, and present my poster.  The discussion of publishing in JACS by Peter Stang and Sonja Krane was very informative. I learned a lot more about services provided by the ACS which will be very helpful to me as I begin to look for employment in academia. 

The poster session went well and throughout this conference there was no shortage of good food and a variety of drink options.  The one area I would like to see improved upon is the scheduling of talks. Since we have to navigate on three floors, we have to leave talks before they are finished and I don’t want to seem rude in leaving, but I also do not want to be late for the next talk.  Also, if some talks go too long and we have to leave to get to the next talk in another room, or if some talks start earlier than I arrive, some of the continuity gets lost.  If we had 5 minutes between each talk to allow for time to get to rooms on different floors and locations, this would solve the problem of leaving too early or arriving late.  I do realize then that the entire day would either be longer to accommodate the extra time, or less talks would be scheduled to keep the same length of time for talks for each day.  Just my thoughts on this. 

I am really enjoying this conference and finding that the people I have met have been very friendly and positive people.

Well today is my birthday and we took a wonderful tour of Prague Castle, Old Town, and New Town. It was a walking tour so we did a LOT of walking, but saw some beautiful architecture.  I took so many pictures that my batteries went dead.  Then six of us (myself, Darci, Nasim, Terry, his wife Andrea, and son Gus) went to eat at Mlynek and had a buffet lunch with beef, salmon, lamb, vegies, potatoes, cabbage, and several desserts.  The scenery of the St. Charles Bridge and the river below were breathtaking to view while eating and socializing with the other graduate students.  Three of us then went to shop for souvenirs in the city center and met up later with the rest of the group at the Prague Convention Center for a reception.  We met Madeleine Jacobs who talked to all of us for awhile about careers in chemistry and encouraged us to never give up the job search in spite of the bad economy.  Employers want what we chemists can do and that is to think critically. Ms. Jacobs is a very nice and down to earth lady.  I enjoyed talking with her.  We also met Dr. Peter Stang (editor of JACS publication), and Susan King, who also works in the publication department of ACS.  Then I visited several booths, picked up journals and bags, and headed out with the group to the Medvicka restaurant for a socializing dinner with the European Young Chemists Network.  We met two students (Frederic and Alex) also working on their Ph.D.s in Belgium and Switzerland.  They both know an impressive number of languages, and one even told us he likes to dance (something I also love to do when not doing research).  Tomorrow is an important day as I will discuss my poster during the poster session.  Signing off until then…….

This is the first time I have travelled internationally (besides Canada, which doesn’t count since it is connected to the U.S.) and I would like to describe the differences in the hotel in Prague compared to American hotels.  The rooms are quite a bit smaller, including the bed, which is a twin size (typical American hotels have two queen or king beds), but this makes the room cooler with the air conditioning since there is much less space to cool.  The door is opened with a real metal key instead of a keycard, and to activate the lighting you have to place the metal tag key chain into a little square holder with a light.  When the light goes on the electricity is activated.  This probably saves on electricity as the outlets do not operate either without placing the key chain tag into the holder.  Also, the flush mechanism for the toilet is not on the tank itself, but on the wall behind the toilet. 

The city is almost entirely made of cobblestone sidewalks and streets, although some of the streets are smoothly paved.  Also, the buildings are all connected to one another.  In walking through the city, I  feel like I have been transported back in time to the period of the Renaissance. The architecture is very beautiful. The cable car system reminds me of San Francisco, although the Prague cable cars look more modern than those in San Francisco. 

On the first evening here, we ate at the Fleka restaurant.  It was about a 25 minute walk from the Hotel Beranek, but a very nice restaurant.  I noticed that most of the street signs are not on street posts at the corners, but rather, are posted on the sides of buildings at the intersections.  Two gentlemen played the accordion to serenade the entire group at the restaurant throughout the dinner.  All of the ACS award winners got the chance to meet and talk with one another over dinner.  I even tried a shot glass full of an interesting liquor called Becherovka, which tasted like it was made with anise and cinnamon.  I had to learn more about this interesting beverage so I googled it and found that the exact ingredients are very secretive, but it is known as an herbal liquor and two ingredients listed in it were anise and cinnamon.  It is also 70 proof so I am glad I nursed it for the entire evening since I had to walk back to the Hotel Beranek.  LOL