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Student Perspective: 2016 ACS Green Chemistry Conference

Valued Contributor III
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Contributed by Ryan Pearson, 2015 Ciba Award Winner, University of Colorado, Boulder

My interest in green chemistry grew to new heights when I was fortunate to participate in the 2015 ACS Green Chemistry Summer School. After this enlightening experience I wanted to continue to attend events that discussed advances in environmentally conscious science and engineering. I was grateful to receive funding from the ACS CIBA Travel Award to attend a conference I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attend. My mentor advised that I step out of my comfort zone and apply for an oral presentation, as one of the goals for my Ph.D. career is to become a better public speaker. I was excited to be accepted to give a talk alongside other researchers working in a similar field to me.

On the first day of the conference I attended the ACS GCI green chemistry workshop. It was fantastic to see many familiar faces of people who also attended the ACS Green Chemistry Summer School in the previous year. During this workshop we were split up into 8 teams to brainstorm how to design a marketable product that could be used in the colorant industry.

It was an eye-­‐opening experience to see how scientists from different disciplines of chemistry, engineering, and education levels would address a problem. Within minutes everyone was thinking out of the box, leading to great conversations and well-­‐developed ideas. It was truly amazing that given the time constraint of a few hours we could critically evaluate a problem and come up with creative solutions. I was excited to volunteer to represent my group and present our ideas in hopes that this would break the nerves and help me warm up for the presentation I would give the following day.

This workshop also allowed for time to network with the experts recruited by the organizers. This broadened my perspective on possible career paths I could pursue in the future. After the workshop was over I continually ran into the workshop’s participants and ended up having dinner with a few, leading to great discussions and new friends. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is interested in a networking opportunity whilst learning new green chemistry techniques.

Later in the week I presented my research at the New Sustainable Synthetic Strategies through Photoredox symposium. This experience was surreal to be able to listen to top scientists speak and then present my own findings while maintaining the attention of those same speakers. After my talk all the speakers and friends went out to lunch, which lead to a fantastic opportunity to further discuss our common scientific interests.

Overall, this conference proved to be an influential experience in my education. The talks I went to re-­‐ingrained techniques I had learned at the ACS Green Summer School. Networking was facilitated due to the common interests in green chemistry and engineering. I am looking forward to watching the connections I made at this conference mature into fruitful relationships.

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