During the final weekend of Spring Break, three undergraduate chemistry students from the UCSC Chemistry Club attended the American Chemical Society Fair & Exposition. Martina Morelli (third year Chemistry major), Belle Zheng (second year Chemistry major), and Eva Jason (third year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major) attended the Spring ACS conference in San Francisco. These experiences proved invaluable for these students and the club as a whole.
Since this trip would not have been possible without the generous support from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, the club is very thankful for the donations from the Department that allowed them to attend this meeting.
Taking part in this gathering of distinguished chemists has enriched the club’s chemical education and introduced them to state-of-the-art chemistry research from around the globe. Below is a summary of the experiences from the attendees.
To maximize exposure to the diverse science exhibited at the conference, each student had picked out sessions they had thought would be interesting and split up. The eventual goal was to expose the remaining Chemistry Club members to the breadth of individual ACS experiences. At the meeting, the club members encountered expansive topics that they had not been exposed in the school curriculum. While Martina learned about “Frontiers in Nanoscience,” Belle and Eva heard from other undergraduate ACS chapters from around the country and got ideas for chemistry demonstrations they could perform at local Santa Cruz elementary schools. One of the most interesting demonstrations was from the University of Michigan - Flint. The students there had devised a demo using pennies to explain how acidic water caused the protective layer in the lead pipes to be stripped away, allowing for the heavy metal to enter the water supply. Next, Eva and Belle heard about the science behind fermented Korean foods. Each researcher presented their work in studying the fermentation processes and its impact on flavor in Korean foods—specifically tea, soy sauce, and rice wine. Eva then heard about peptide design that allowed for new methods of drug delivery and development. Martina and Belle attended sessions in the “Division of Energy and Fuels” on supercapacitors and batteries, a topic Martina has been researching in a campus lab. Martina stayed for additional days, learning about lithium-air batteries, metal oxides used for electrodes, stabilizing water for use as electrolyte material in lithium-ion batteries, and the army’s research on light-weight capacitors to wear as patches on clothing. She also heard a talk on porous organic polymers used for mercury removal.
In addition to hearing compelling talks on new fields of chemistry, the three students also found it valuable to network with other students, professionals, and researchers.
At the exposition, the students spoke to representatives from companies to hear about what types of jobs in fields such as biotechnology, chemical sales, and even within the FBI are available after graduation. At the poster session, the students were able to get a glimpse into the life of a graduate student, thereby helping them prepare for the realities of future graduate school endeavors.
During the first Chemistry Club meeting of the Spring quarter, the students who attended the meeting shared what they learned and enriched the group as a whole.
The experiences gained through the ACS fair provided incomparable inspiration for students as to possibilities within the field of chemistry, in terms of research, academia, and industry. Students gained insights into tangible applications of what they learn in class as well as glimpses into their future research goals.