Are You Ready for Boston??

BostonWe’re coming to the end of July and that means two things; summer is nearly over and the ACS Fall National Meeting is right around the corner. ACS Fall National Meetings tend to be smaller than spring national meetings. So, instead of 15,000-20,000 chemists in one convention center, you only have 12,000-15,000. Okay… so, it’s still big, but we’re here to help!

This meeting will feature some very special guests. For the first time EVER, ACS International Student Chapters will send representatives from their schools. As if this isn’t exciting enough, the meeting is being held in Boston, one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the country.

With so much to see and do between now and the end of the meeting, how do you even know where to start? Here are some tips for making the most of your national meeting experience.


By now, you should have made your travel plans. If you haven’t, go the national meeting website to register, find travel discounts, and locate a hotel room (the official ACS hotels are sold out, but information on alternatives is provided). But don’t bother renting a car. Boston traffic is legendary, and you can get around much easier by walking or using public transportation.

Get your suit cleaned and iron your khakis. ACS meetings are fun, but they are also professional conventions. You’ll need business attire for your presentation, business casual for the rest of the meeting, and whatever you feel like when you are done for the day. And leave the flip-flops at home. Invest in some good, comfortable leather shoes that look smart and can handle all the walking (on concrete) you are about to do.

Your presentation should be ready (still need tips?), so now is the time to practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more confident you will sound, no matter how nervous you are. And remember to bring along some business cards.

Contingency plans

Now you’re probably thinking, “all these preparations are good, but if I get to Boston and a zombie apocalypse breaks out? Or worse—my poster gets smooshed?” Emergencies are tough enough to handle at home, much less in a strange city.

But we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to handle most emergencies at national meetings:

  •  Can’t find my room: go to the lobby and look for a friendly person in the bright yellow, “Ask Me” T-shirt. They are there specifically to help you navigate the technical program, find your room, and answer general questions.
  • Can’t find my hotel: use the hotel and shuttle map. You can also download the meeting app for all conference information. Or stop by Undergraduate Hospitality Center in room 205A of the convention center for directions, information, and possibly a muffin.
  • Presentation got lost/splattered/hit by a car: always have a back-up of your presentation or poster on a flash drive. If something happens, find an “Ask Me” person, an ACS operations office, or a hotel concierge to direct you to the nearest FedEx or other printing facility.
  • Medical emergency or crime: if you are seriously injured or sick (or suddenly become a crime statistic), call 911 and alert the hotel staff… in that order.
  • Fire, earthquake, zombie apocalypse: if some sort of catastrophe happens at the meeting, ACS staff and security personnel will tell you what to do, while everyone else takes pictures. Put down your camera/phone and follow their instructions. You’ll be safer for it, and the Wi-Fi will be too overloaded for your tweets, anyway.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get a tube or carrier for your poster, protect your computer, and remember you are in a city. Pay attention to your surroundings, travel with friends, and don’t flash anything expensive.

What to do?

Okay, you are all rehearsed, you’re looking sharp, and your arrangements are made. So what do you actually do in Boston?

Start with the Undergraduate Program Guide. It lists all of the national meeting programming that is set up specifically for students. There are chemistry talks, discussions with the international student chapters, grad school workshops, and opportunities to meet grad school recruiters and chemical professionals.

Want more technical talks? Search the technical program by topic, day, or your favorite chemist. Want to meet more people? Browse through the social events for the groups you are interested in. Entering the workforce… ever? Check out the career resources and register for the career fair. Need a break? Stop by the exposition for information, giveaways, and workshops from a variety of vendors.

And, if you need more of a break, check out the city. Boston is a fluid blend of historical landmarks and modern fun (unless you count the roads). For a brief respite, stop in Boston Common and watch—or ride—the swan boats. For a longer break, shop at Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market, visit the New England Aquarium, or tour Old Ironsides. If you have even more time, try following the Freedom Trail or taking a Duck Tour.

Also, have a donut. Dunkin’ Donuts was founded just south of Boston, so their shops proliferate the city. In fact, if you buy just one donut at each Dunkin’ Donuts you pass while in Boston… you’ll probably go broke on your first day.

See you there!


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