With the help of a Messel Bursary, I attended the V International Symposium of Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry was held in Nara, Japan, from 6-10 June 2010. My poster was on: 'Electrochemical chiral sensing and enantiomeric excess determination using ferrocene based boronic acids'.
Chiral ferrocenyl amines were used to form imine boronic acids adducts and these system have shown the ability to recognise two different entantiomers of chiral diols using electrochemical techniques. In addition to this the large difference in electrode potential displayed by the diasteromeric adducts formed with the two enantiomers of Binol allowed us to perform the first electrochemical read out of enantiomeric excess of a mixture of enantiomers. At the conference I met people working on similar systems and using similar techniques, including F Stoddart (Northwestern University, US), L Fabbrizzi (Universita’ di Pavia, Italy), J P Sauvage (Université de Strasbourg-CNRS/UMR, France), M Shionoya (University of Tokio, Japan).
Both traditional features of supramolecular chemistry and new aspects of the field were explored at the conference. Traditional features include molecular recognition, self assembling and molecular motion, the new aspects offen involve new materials with exciting properties in particular metal-organic framework and gels. I learned that sometimes organic chemistry problems can be solved by looking at them from an inorganic point of view and vice versa.
Opportunities for networking were probably the main reason for attending, as I'm finding that being in my last year of my PhD, the pressure to find a job is getting quite intense. Poster sessions, excursions and extra conference time all proved to be good times to speak with notable people in the field in a more informal environment. I'm also hoping that the students I met will in future become colleagues in academia. Since attending the conference I've decided to apply for a postdoc position and the people I met during the conference are top of the wish list of my future job.
My research group has also benefited from my attendance, as I was able to pass on details of the most relevant speakers and posters regarding the theme of research. It was also fascinating to meet people studying similar subjects but living on the other side of the planet.
I am now thinking more of a postdoctoral position, rather than an industrial placement and I’d like to continue to work in supramolecular chemistry that I have been studying since my Master's Degree. I think attending specific conferences like the ISMSC are a good idea for everyone who wants to pursuit a career in this field. I've also found that many of the notable people of the field were first of all friends and then colleagues.
Giorgio Mirri, University of Birmingham