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Impressions from the San Francisco ACS meeting March 25, 2010

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

I had a good time taking a break from my projects and going over to the meeting every day on BART. Convenience. I will put in a plug for my favorite restaurant in SF, Lulu’s. It is only about a block from the south corner of the Moscone Center (the corner in the back right if you face the front).

The talks were the usual hodgepodge, but whoever is putting talks in sessions or sessions within divisions’ programs is getting very creative. A water analysis session in the analytical division had nothing at all about analysis. It did focus on water purification, but…, and then a paper in the petroleum division on Fischer Propsch chemistry, which is marginally petroleum related to petroleum anyway, dealt strictly with theoretical calculation of carbon monoxide on catalyst surfaces. That ought to have been a catalysis or computational session somewhere else.

But the ACS is slipping up a lot more. I saw chairpeople who were total novices, not even checking to see if the speakers were there before the sessions. Finding out at the scheduled time is poor running of a session. The chair ought to have had premeeting contact with every presenter and also asked before each session portion for speakers to come forward. This is when a chair tells the signals for timing and asks about name pronounciations (if needed). Obviously the chairpeople were uncoached.

A note to grad student speakers: Self-confidence is good, but mute it some. I saw way too many people speaking down to the audience, in tones of :I know ande you need me to explain everything to you”. Arrogance and haughtiness do not make an audience friendly. If you have any fears of tough questions, why antagonize the listeners?

Everything is trying to be either green or nano (or in some cases both). What used to be metal clusters are now ligated nanoparticles. A dilute sulfuric acid solution is green because sulfate is a naturally-occurring anion. I wanted to puke several times, but only rolled my eyes.

On a social note, I am glad to see a higher proportion of women at the meetings. But as with any observation of younger women, I just do not understand the fashion statement of hooker chique outfits, especially at a scientific meeting.



1. paul - March 27, 2010

I have found that the National meetings are increasingly pointless… unless you want a free pen from supelco.

2. fetzthechemist - March 27, 2010

I I think they are a good practice ground for talks or giving posters. Grad students, postdocs, and even those in their first few years after their doctorate or masters ought to use them that way. At this one, I even rehoned my own speaking skills. I think I had gotten lax in approaching a talk. I gave a fairly good one, a B+ in my own estimation….but about a half-dozen people praised me, including the next speaker in my session on his way to the podium. I am a tough grader of my own efforts, but they’ve not seen me give the A game talk, either.

3. Rhenium - March 29, 2010

The conference was only ok, I spent much of it in my hotel room prepping for my talk and telling my students what to attend. My grad student gave a talk on Thursday afternoon which was very good for him on several levels. Nevertheless the shear number of talks is making things very unwieldy, over 1300 papers in the inorganic division alone. Putting all the talks thing in the correct spot is just impossible with such numbers.

Nevertheless, the beer at the ORGN/MEDI poster session was good, I got to catch up with people, and it helped me refine my presentation for the conference I really wish to attend, the Gordan Conference in June.

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