The Sceptical Chymist | ACS: Rewind

Published in Chemistry

Perhaps the biggest difficulty with ACS meetings is the size. There’s a vast amount of good chemistry on show here, and it can be extremely difficult to choose where to go. I’ll tell you a little about what I’ve seen in the last couple of days in a later post, but first I thought I’d talk a little about my strategy for selecting sessions. I think it works quite well – but I’d be interested to hear about other strategies in the comments.

The ACS helpfully provides a planner that allows you to create a schedule of talks you want to attend. You select the talks, and it will alert you if there are conflicts. What it doesn’t (and to be fair probably can’t do) is tell you that you’ll never be able to go to talk X and then move on to talk Y (scheduled to start immediately after the end of X) because they are approximately a 0.5 miles apart – that’s as the crow flies — and in different hotels. So you have to be a little more selective. Add to that the fact that whichever talk you select, a later conversation with friends will invariably start with ‘Did you see the talk by Prof. Bigshot? It was amazing/terrible/I can’t believe he said….’. To cut a long story short, you will have missed that talk, because you were 0.5 miles away in a…you get the picture.

So, I’ve started using a slightly more random approach to selecting which talks to attend. I pick a talk that I’ve seen before and enjoyed — there is always a chance that there will be some updates on progress — then I’ll stick with that session. So I use the scheduler to select around 3 talks a day but get to see plenty that I wouldn’t necessarily have selected otherwise.

And, come the next big multi-session meeting, I will hopefully have some new choices to ‘rewind’ and act as the seed for my discovery of some new chemistry.


Stephen Davey (Senior Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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