For anyone interested in chemistry, the ACS National Meeting is a must-attend event. If the location happens to be Boston, there really are no excuses. That’s why 14,500 scientists made it to the 256th edition of the ACS National Meeting, which took place in said city from Sunday 19th to Thursday 23rd of August.
Although the technical sessions always begin on Sunday, for a few of us at C&EN, the meeting starts as early as Friday morning, when we hold our editorial board meeting. But there are events open to the public on Saturday too. This year C&EN helped organize one – Science Storytellers. The concept is simple: Introduce a kid to a scientist, and let them ask questions guided only by their curiosity. Then ask the child to reflect on the conversation, and tell a story by drawing a picture or writing a few words. It is an excellent introduction to the basics of journalism and science.
Though facing stiff competition, for C&EN, the highlight of the meeting was the activity surrounding the Talented 12. Each year, we highlight 12 up-and-coming innovators in our August double issue who are tackling some of the most vexing challenges in the chemical universe. The ACS National Meeting has become the perfect location to introduce our audience to them with live, in-person events.
New to the Talented 12 program this year was the sponsorship by instrumentation giant Thermo Fisher Scientific. In the months running up to the ACS National Meeting Thermo had been running a number of innovative campaigns, including asking C&EN’s audience who has inspired them to pursue chemistry.
Who inspired you to become a chemist? Tag your inspiration and use the hashtag#CENT12 to enter a drawing for a free trip to the ACS national meeting and Talented 12 Symposium in Boston. pic.twitter.com/VEcj9pt4Cu
— C&EN (@cenmag) July 10, 2018
At ACS Boston, the Talented 12 activities started with the announcement of the class of 2018 on Sunday evening, which took place at the ACS booth in the exhibition floor at the convention center. The booth was absolutely packed, and many were able to attend remotely thanks to a Facebook Live broadcast.
The main event, the C&EN Talented 12 symposium, kicked off the next morning with our keynote speaker. This year it was David Liu, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, who entertained the audience with a fascinating talk that covered the research his lab is doing, to advice for early career researchers, – all without forgetting to mention family and hobbies, which, unusually, include wood carving and playing Blackjack. Liu’s presentation was followed by brief TED-style talks by each of the Talented 12 members, who had the opportunity to talk about their journeys and their fields of research.
After the symposium, guests celebrated the Talented 12 class of 2018 at a reception with our event sponsors, Thermo Fisher Scientific. Our guest speaker was no other than Chemistry Nobel prize winner Sir Frazer Stoddart. He led an interactive session fashioned in the style of Ask-Me-Anything, where attendees could ask any questions that came into their minds. This talk was inspirational and full of good advice for early-career chemists, but the most important lesson I took from it was “Do it your way”. By this he meant that one can follow many different career paths in chemistry and pursue a variety of research opportunities in different fields. Books, mentors, coaches and friends will offer a plan or guidance on how to succeed but it would be their plan. You must find out what you enjoy doing and find a unique way to do those things. This requires effort and creativity but it is fun and fulfilling because it’d be “your way” of doing things.
Besides C&EN Talented 12, we also celebrated six months since the launch of our podcast, C&EN’s Stereo Chemistry. We thought this was an opportunity to do something different and decided to invite an audience to record a live episode. We selected a number of celebrity guests, organized a quiz – á-la-Wait-wait-don’t-tell-me – and voila! It was fun! You can listen to it here.
And of course I should also mention Heroes of Chemistry, a program started in 1996 that recognizes “industrial chemical scientists whose innovative work has led to the development of commercially successful products ingrained with chemistry for the benefit of humankind”. At this meeting in Boston, four teams of industrial chemical scientists, from AstraZeneca, DuPont, Pfizer, and Seattle Genetics, were honored with the 2018 Heroes of Chemistry awards at a black tie dinner.
Finally, our marketing colleagues put on their second annual science marketing event. Speakers from Luminex, Ashland, and C&EN’s editorial director, Amanda Yarnell, gave talks illuminating how to effectively market to a scientific audience. From earned media and what a publication like C&EN really wants to see in story pitches, to building personas that capture the life of someone at the bench. We plan on doing this event every year in conjunction with a major show.
As you can see, there was a lot going on – and of course, C&EN provided coverage from the meeting too!. We created daily pop-up newsletters with curated lists of the best science and most interesting events for the day. We also broadcast a number of events, including the live announcement of the Talented 12 class of 2018 and the talk by David Liu , through C&EN’s Facebook Live channel. Watch them on-demand here.
There isn’t much room to rest: The next meeting is in Orlando from March 31 to April 4, 2019. Planning has already started and we look forward to seeing many of you there.
Bibiana Campos Seijo