Au Revoir to the Golden City

Greetings from San Francisco! My name is Lana and I am here at the 253rd National Meeting with my fellow ACS Undergraduate Student Liaison, Alex Goranov. I hope that you enjoy my perspective as a volunteer coordinator and participant in the day’s activities.

As undergraduate students, we all have access to the Hospitality Center. The welcoming atmosphere helps set the tone for the day and provides a space to recharge your batteries (both actual and metaphorical). This home base for students is great for networking. I was there first thing in the morning to welcome today’s undergraduate volunteers.

One of my favorite events at national meetings is the Undergraduate Research Poster Session. It is so motivating and exciting to see the work of my peers on display. The students who came to San Francisco really showed up and showed out!

A highlight of the day was attending the Eminent Scientist Lecture by Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi, an accomplished and highly awarded biochemist and faculty member at Stanford University. Today’s lecture focused on her journey toward professional success. It was truly inspiring to hear such a celebrated woman’s perspective. The lecture was over lunch, which provided yet another opportunity to connect with a variety of undergraduate students.

I was really looking forward to the undergraduate session on Improving Scientific Communications, and it did not disappoint. As a young chemist who is preparing to be a professional in modern society, it is important that I have the skills and acumen necessary to communicate about my work in any setting. I need to be able to engage and connect with colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family members to be a well-rounded and far-reaching scientist. This discussion helped to put me on the right path.

I closed out the day by joining my fellow chemists, both undergraduates and professionals, at the lively Sci-Mix poster session. All of the innovative research on display really emphasized the power of chemistry. This is the place to see and be seen, and I was glad that I had my newly-printed business cards on hand.

Today has been jam-packed with plenty of stimulating content and unique networking opportunities. Being able to use the ACS mobile app right on my phone to curate my day’s activities helped keep me on schedule. After today’s excitement, I am looking forward to indulging in a set of technical talks about artisanal foods tomorrow morning. I love experimenting in my at-home lab (a.k.a. my kitchen), and I’m looking forward to learning about two of my favorite foods, bread and olive oil!

San Francisco has been a blast and I have really enjoyed sharing this experience with you all. See you soon in Washington D.C. for our next national meeting!

Lana M. Nitti is studies at Utica College and is serving as Student Liaison to the ACS Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board.

Sunday at the SF National Meeting

My name is Alex Goranov, and I am one of the Student Liaisons to the Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board — the committee responsible for all the undergraduate events at the 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. The first day of the conference was packed with many workshops and talks, so let me briefly recap some of them.

My day started at the Undergraduate Hospitality Center. It was a great place to get breakfast and coffee, as well as to meet with many of the undergraduates attending the conference. Great networking opportunity!

Two Graduate School Reality Check sessions started afterward. The first was designed to help students apply for graduate school programs (masters, professional masters, and doctoral). I attended this event at the last conference, and found it extremely helpful. I had just gone through the long and stressful process of applying for Ph.D. programs, and what I learned during this session was extremely helpful. The second session (the subtitle of which was “You’re in – Now What?”) focused on the next step: what it costs to get the degree you applied for.

After lunch, I attended the Networking Social with Graduate School Recruiters event, a not-to-miss activity for anyone looking to apply for a graduate program. Admission officers from over 40 universities across the country were there, and it was a great opportunity to establish a contact at an institution to which you plan to apply.

In the evening I joined Lana Nitti, my fellow Student Liaison, in attending the Student Chapter Award Ceremony and the Undergraduate Social. These were two great opportunities to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments during the last academic year. Again, congratulations to all awardees!

After enjoying the great food, drinks, and music at these two events, I’m ready for tomorrow, which will be even more exciting. I am eager to attend the symposium on the chemistry of fermented beverages, as well as the Eminent Scientist Lecture by Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi from Stanford University. I’m also looking forward to seeing what activities other ACS student members have been doing over the past year at the Successful Student Chapter Poster Session. See you tomorrow!

Alex Goranov attends Ramapo College in New Jersey and is serving as Student Liaison to the ACS Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board.

Getting the most out of the ACS national meeting: Networking Social with Graduate School Recruiters

There are hundreds of graduate chemistry programs in this country. How do you find the right one for you? Do you even know if you want to go?

At every national meeting, ACS hosts the Networking Social with Graduate School Recruiters to help you answer these questions. The next will one will be April 2, 2017, 1:00-5:00 pm, at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, CA, as part of the 253rd ACS National Meeting and Exposition.

Here’s everything you need to know about the event.

Who should go?

If you are planning on applying to grad school, thinking about applying to grad school, or wondering what grad school is all about, you should go. There will be lots of programs represented and all kinds of people to talk to (See “Who will be there?”). You are sure to find it informative.

Also, there will be free food, and a drawing for two $40 gift cards! The event is open for four hours. So, if you have a half-hour in your schedule, are interested in grad school, and need a snack, stop on by!

Who will be there?

Most participants are representatives from graduate programs, along with representatives of several other opportunities. (See a complete list of program participants here.) Some representatives are professional recruiters; others are program faculty or students.

What do you need to do?

It depends on what you want to accomplish. Here are some ideas.

To enter the drawing: When you arrive, pick up a networking card at the registration table. Collect stickers from at least 6 recruiters as you meet with them. Write your name and contact information on the card, and drop it off at the registration table before you leave. The drawing will take place after the event, and staff will contact you if you win.

To learn what grad school is all about: Look for tables where students are serving as representatives. Tell them who you are and why you are there. Ask questions such as:

  • What prompted you to go to grad school?
  • What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
  • How did you pick this program?
  • What sorts of things are program graduates doing?

If the answers to these questions pique your interest, you may want to learn more about graduate school. If not … well, at least you got a snack!

To find specific programs to pursue: This is not the time or place for an in-depth evaluation of any particular program. Professional recruiters will only have overviews of their programs; faculty and grad students will only be able to tell you about their own experiences. Instead, think of the event as an opportunity to ask such questions as:

  • What lines of research are faculty pursuing?
  • How large are the research groups?
  • How long are students taking to earn their degrees?
  • Are there opportunities to collaborate outside of the department, or even outside of academia?
  • What opportunities are available to develop non-technical skills, such as communication or safety?

These questions can help you identify potentially interesting programs. You can learn more specifics online.

You can also get more ideas at the two-part Graduate School Reality Check, April 2, 2017, at the national meeting. Part 1: Getting In (10:00-11:30 a.m.) will cover different types of graduate programs, why you might want to pursue them, and what to expect from the application process. Part 2: You’re In, Now What? (11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.) will give you a glimpse of what to expect from graduate school.

Whether you are planning your graduate career or simply doing some general fact-finding about grad school, the Networking Social with Graduate School Recruiters can help you get started. See you in San Francisco!

The Chemistry of Tattoo Ink

It seems these days you can’t go a block without seeing someone who has a tattoo. A 2012 Harris Interactive Poll reveals that 1 in 5 adults have tattoos, up from 14% in 2008. People are turning their bodies into canvases of artwork used to express their past, present, and future. When I went to get my first chemistry-related tattoo, I realized I didn’t know anything about the chemical composition of what I have been permanently putting in my body for four years. So, as any chemist would do, I did some research and found that, chemically, there is little known about the contents of most inks that artists are using. This troubled me, as I think it is important to understand exactly what the tattoo ink contains and what it could be doing to our bodies. The exact chemical components involved are not always explicitly stated, but what…

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Bonding in the City of Brotherly Love- Thanks, Philly!

Hey Undergrads!

My name is Alex Goranov, and I am the Student Liaison to the Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board—the committee responsible for the incredible undergraduate events at the 252nd American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Philly. I loved the conference and would like to briefly recap my experiences.

Independence Hall National Historic Park Philadelphia

Independence Hall National Historic Park Philadelphia

I began my day at the Undergraduate Hospitality Center. While fueling myself with coffee, I met with the student volunteers for the Undergraduate Program, whose tremendous contributions were much appreciated.

A number of sessions on the first day of the undergraduate program were designed to help students interested in attending graduate school. My favorite speaker, Dr. Sam Pazicni, gave an amazing talk during the Graduate School Reality Check sessions. I was inspired by the stories of the panelists our program chair, Dr. Michelle Boucher, had invited.

In the afternoon, I attended the Networking Social with Graduate School Recruiters event, which is a not-to-miss event if you are looking to apply for a graduate program. Don’t worry if you missed it, as it will be included again at the next ACS National Meeting!

The second day of the program was even more exciting! The two workshops in the morning were a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the discussion and liked that the audience participated actively with the panelists. Hearing stories from all the different students and professionals was definitely view-broadening.

Instead of having lunch off-site, I went to the Eminent Scientist Lecture and Luncheon. The lecture was given by Dr. Tobin Marks, who was recently honored with ACS`s highest award—the Priestley Medal. His talk on “How to Make Plastic Transistors and Solar Cells” was quite impressive! He explained his research in depth and showed us how fast materials science advances. I am eager to see what the world will look like in 10 years if we employ his plastics!

After lunch, I was able to view everyone’s undergraduate research work at the undergraduate research poster session. Everyone has done such a great job with their research over the past year, and I am looking forward to hearing more talks about published papers during the upcoming ACS National Meetings.

Our program ended with the Student Speed Networking with Chemistry Professionals event. I have participated in this event before, and it is probably my favorite one! My friends said it was a great experience learning how to professionally introduce themselves, and they received useful advice from professionals in the academic, government, and industry sectors.

I am already looking forward to the next ACS National Meeting, which will be in San Francisco from April 2 to 6, 2017. If you missed any of these amazing events, or have a piece of research you would like to present in sunny California, be sure to apply for the travel grants given by the ACS Undergraduate Programs Office. I hope to see you all there next year!

Best wishes,

Alex Goranov
Student Liaison, ACS Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board







A How to Guide for Speed Networking at the Philly National Meeting!

While at the 252nd ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, you’ll have a chance to participate in the “Student Speed Networking with Chemistry Professionals” event, which will give you the rare opportunity to meet tons of chemists and peers in a short amount of time. Join us on Monday, August 22 from 4-5:30 PM in the Pennsylvania Convention Center Hall G to take advantage of this great opportunity!

To help prepare you, we’ve put together some tips that will help you navigate the event and maximize the time spent in each short networking round.


  • Choose a seat at any table where a chemistry professional is sitting.
  • Look for color coded tent cards at each table to help you to identify chemists.

Industrial: Green  ٠ Government: Blue  ٠ Academia: Yellow  ∙ Nonprofit: White

  • Each networking round will last approximately 6 minutes.
  • When prompted, students will switch tables and talk to a different chemistry professional.
  • Feel free to take a break between sessions. Free snacks, drinks, and career resources are provided.
  • A 30 minute free networking session will take place at the conclusion of the speed networking rounds so you can continue discussions or talk to people you hadn’t had the chance to meet yet.


  • Prepare your “elevator speech” – You’ll need to give a 30-second introduction of yourself.
    -Your name
    -Your school and level of education
    -What you are studying
    Your educational and career goals (long and short term)
  • Know what you want to get from the conversations and be ready to tell the professionals what that is.
  • Be an active listener. Be curious and ask open-ended questions. For example:
  1. How they obtained their first job in chemistry
  2. How they became interested in their fields
  3. If they went to graduate school
  4. What they like best about their job
  5. If they have any advice to share
  • Talk to as many professionals as time allows – each will have different personal experiences and perspectives.
  • Exchange business cards (if you have them). Ask for a business card when closing the conversation.
  • Follow up! When you get home, send a “thank you” e-mail or a question if you have one. If you have a LinkedIn account, connect with the professionals on LinkedIn. Stay in touch. This will help you to build your professional network.
  • Take note of helpful advice and tips you receive. Share this information with others you know when you return to school and home. Network and seek more information from others you meet.

We look forward to seeing you there!

A Guide to Successful Membership Recruiting

Chapter officers and faculty advisors share their ideas for obtaining new members

Inter American University of Puerto Rico

Inter American University of Puerto Rico

People are the heart of any ACS student chapter. Without new members to take on active roles, chapters can languish as older members graduate and move on. New members infuse vitality, skills, and experiences that ca

n benefit the chapter itself, the institution, and the broader community. Recruiting new members for your ACS student chapter can sometimes seem like a daunting challenge on a college campus, but having an active recruitment program is vital for your chapter’s success.

For many successful chapters, the first step is to form a membership committee charged with creating a recruitment strategy (sometimes, this same committee is also responsible for carrying out the planned recruitment activities). Below, chapter officers and faculty advisors describe how they are successfully recruiting new chapter members.

Target freshmen

Consider recruiting incoming freshmen as chapter members. While many upperclassmen are over-extended with activities, freshmen are often an eager, but untapped, resource with few extracurricular commitments.

Some chapters begin recruiting freshmen during the summer, weeks before the fall term begins. Recruitment activities at The University of St. Thomas, Texas begin in July during the Science and Mathematics Summer Institute for entering freshmen. The chapter also has a booth at the Freshman Orientation Fair in August, before classes start. At both events, prospective members receive a brochure describing the advantages of becoming a chapter member, a listing of past activities, and planned activities for the upcoming year.

The student chapter at Xavier University of Louisiana also extends the welcome mat to freshmen before classes begin, sending invitations to all incoming new chemistry majors to join the ACS student chapter and participate in the university’s mentoring program for first-year students.

Veteran chapter members at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) add a personal touch to encourage freshmen majoring in chemistry and biochemistry to join the chapter by contacting them through Facebook or by e-mail. The members introduce themselves and attach their photo. If the freshmen later attend a meeting, they will see a familiar face and feel welcome. The chapter also teams up veteran members with new members during magic shows and other events. This also helps to break down the “age barrier” between freshmen and upperclassmen.

Believe it or not, sugar can also be used attract freshmen to your chapter. At the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), freshmen are invited to attend the student chapter’s Saccharide Social. This fall event gives freshmen an opportunity to check out the chapter in an informal setting while enjoying sweet treats. Members set up a small fire pit so guests can make s’mores. They also provide caramel apples, apple cider, and a few other treats for prospective members to enjoy.

The UMBC chapter also pairs potential members with experienced members and takes advantage of the ACS Member-Get-A-Member program. Not only do the students enjoy receiving the periodic table of elements blanket throws and backpacks, it’s also a way for members to interact with one another as well as meet some of the chemistry faculty.

Visit chemistry classes

The ACS student chapter at South Texas College begins its membership recruitment activities on the first day of classes each semester. Members visit the general chemistry and organic chemistry classes and talk to the students about the chapter and the benefits of becoming a member. They distribute ACS membership applications and copies of C&EN and inChemistry to the students and pass around sign-up sheets so they can later contact interested students. Because South Texas College is an ACS student chapter at a two-year college, there is a greater student turnover rate than at a four-year institution — making member recruitment an ongoing necessity.

Participate in student involvement fairs

Involvement fairs also provide wonderful member recruiting opportunities. Each fall, the Campbell University student chapter participates in a campus street fair organized by the university. All university clubs and many organizations and companies from the surrounding area participate. The fair primarily serves as a way to introduce incoming students to the various clubs and opportunities around the campus. Chapter members pass out informational flyers and talk with students about joining the chapter. Participating in this event helps to bring in new members and increase the chapter’s visibility among students, faculty, and the community.

Provide incentives to join

Aquinas College

Aquinas College

Extra credit in chemistry class and food can also lure new members. At UDM, the ACS student chapter holds an annual fall recruitment barbeque, providing free hot dogs, soda, and other treats to passersby. To encourage science majors to attend, students from freshman and sophomore level courses have the opportunity to pick a random number of one-to-three bonus points for attending the barbeque, sign up on the club list server and have a small meet-and-greet with a veteran club member.

Offer a valuable resource

Offering a helping hand to new students when it’s needed most is also an excellent way to obtain new members. The student chapter at the University of Southern Indiana (USI) created the ACS Student Guide to the USI Chemistry Department booklet, which they distribute to new chemistry majors each year. This guide welcomes the students to the university and invites them to the chapter’s first meeting of the year. It includes photos from chapter events; lists benefits of becoming an ACS member; provides biographies and photos of faculty members; and lists important contact information. The guide also includes “A Beginner’s Survival Guide for Chemistry Classes” — tips and guidelines for succeeding as a chemistry major. (to see a copy of the student guide, visit the USI chapter website at

Create Good Buzz

When potential members hear good things about a chapter from a trusted source, they are very likely to join. East Stroudsburg University employs word of mouth to spread the word to potential members about the chapter. Chapter members invite their friends to become members and instructors of junior and senior-level courses encourage their students to join the chapter. The East Stroudsburg University student chapter also holds its meetings in a public space, and it has recruited several passersby to join.

Begin chapter activities right away

Belmont University

Belmont University

It also pays to recruit members before they commit themselves to other campus activities. At the start of the fall term, the Xavier University of Louisiana chapter begins its first fund-raising activity: visiting all of the general chemistry lectures and lab courses to sell periodic tables and rules to students. Members introduce themselves to the students and invite them to attend the first chapter meeting. Adding to the momentum, the first meeting takes place the first week of school. Last fall, more than 100 students attended the meeting.

Create a welcoming atmosphere

Veteran members at the University of Arizona actively strive to create a friendly atmosphere for incoming new members. The veterans realize that devising a membership strategy that brings new members into their chapter is just the first step of an ongoing membership process. Every officer is encouraged to “meet and greet” new faces after each meeting is adjourned. This goes a long way toward retaining new and old members alike and keeping the chapter strong and active.

Whether you use some of all of these recruitment activities — or come up with effective ones all your own — it’s important to the health of your chapter to keep attracting new members. Not only will they make the activities you undertake this year more fun and rewarding … they’ll also be there to carry on the momentum you created after you move on to the next phase of your career!

Contributing to this article were Michael R. Adams (Xavier University of Louisiana), Ludivina Avila (South Texas College), Tara Carpenter (UMBC), Ben Dyer (Campbell University), Thomas B. Mall oy, Jr. (University of St. Thomas), Matthew J. Mio (UDM), Brett Stoll (University of Arizona).