At the outset I would like to thank SCI for awarding me a Messel bursary which helped me to attend the autumn 2008 meeting of the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS) in Reno, Nevada. It was hosted at the Grand Sierra Resort hotel.
The conference period of five days from 28 Sept- 2 Oct 2008 was for me, exhilarating science along with a bit of fun in the form of social events. The general format of the conference was to have plenary and award lectures in the morning and specific sessions in the rest of the day, with lunch and coffee breaks. My abstract was accepted for an oral presentation, so the first thing I did after registration was to locate the ‘speaker ready’ room to practise my talk.
The conference covered a wide range of topics in the area of analytical sciences and spectroscopy. These included atomic spectroscopy, bioanalytical chemistry, fluorescence, mass spectrometry, chemometrics, nanotechnology, analytics, Raman spectroscopy, IR NIR spectroscopy, microfluidics, surface plasmon resonance and nanotechnology. Many of these were of considerable interest to me. Over the five days I attended sessions on bioanalytical-nanoparticles and nanosensors, bioanalytical SERS, spectroscopy and nanomaterials, applications of fluorescence, emerging areas in Raman spectroscopy and Raman imaging. There was also an award symposium organised on SERS in honour of Prof Van Duyne who received the Ellis R Lipincott award.
There were also daily poster sessions. I was scheduled to speak in the one on Emerging areas in Raman spectroscopy, and the title of my talk was ‘SERS-melting: A new method for discriminating mutations in DNA sequences’. It was the first time I had presented the results of my investigation into utilising surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for DNA analysis to an international conference. Thanks to Prof George Chumanov, and due to a last minute withdrawal by a speaker, I spoke in the Bioanalytical-SERS session as well. For me it was a dream come true to present my work in front of the most prominent figures in the field. Both of my talks went well and gave my self-confidence a boost. Some comments during the question and answer time also gave me some ideas for future work.
Overall the conference was a great opportunity for me to meet and discuss ideas with some of the stalwarts in spectroscopy and analytical chemistry. I was especially pleased to talk to Prof Katrin Kneipp, who pioneered single molecule detection using SERS and Dr M Culha, who is involved in DNA analytics. It was also very good to meet my peers from around the world, and I got a lot of new ideas for future work. Attending sessions linked to my main field gave me a wider perspective on the subject and is sure to spur ideas. All of these gains in knowledge, ideas and networking will definitely go a long way in my progress as a researcher.
Mr Sumeet Mahajan
University of Southampton