Messel Travel Bursary Recipient, Rosemary Croft, reports from the 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco, California

12 June 2017

13 Jun 2017

Rosemary Croft was awarded a Messel Travel Bursary, which enabled her to travel to the 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco, California. Here, she reports on this large-scale conference and her experience presenting a talk and poster on her PhD research in synthetic chemistry.

‘I am currently in the 3rd year of my PhD programme at Imperial College London. My research explores new methods for the synthesis of novel substituted oxetane motifs with potential applications in medicinal chemistry. Most recently this has involved successfully establishing a new collaborative project with Pfizer for the synthesis of 3,3-disubstituted oxetanes.

‘The generous support of SCI through a Messel Travel Bursary enabled me to attend the ACS National meeting in San Francisco and present on two aspects of my ongoing PhD research both through an oral presentation and a poster. I would like to sincerely thank SCI and the selection committee for giving me this invaluable opportunity.

‘The ACS National Meeting attracts a large number of chemists from around the world presenting on a vast range of topics during concurrent sessions. It was often difficult to decide which sessions to attend but being exposed to such a wide range and large volume of chemistry made it a very stimulating and exciting environment to be in. It was a great experience to be able to attend a variety of talks presented by world-renowned academics, industrial scientists and my peers. I was interested in finding out about a diverse range of topics and was incredibly inspired by the cutting edge research I was hearing about. A particular highlight was seeing Martin Burke (and Junqi Li) talk about their development of an automated small molecule synthesis machine, a ground-breaking piece of research from late 2015 that generated much discussion within the wider chemistry community. It was fascinating learning more about the background and process leading to this development and participate in discussions about it with other scientists afterwards.

‘Talks from world leaders in the field of C-H activation such as Jin-Quan Yu and Melanie Sanford and numerous other talks on this subject from PhD students, really brought me up to date with recent developments in this fast-moving area and allowed an insight into the future direction of the field. Furthermore, it was interesting to attend a number of talks on photoredox catalysis, a field that is continually expanding and finding more and more exciting applications.

‘Throughout the conference, I was motivated by the ingenious and innovative approaches taken by researchers at all levels to overcome current synthetic challenges that as a community of organic chemists we are facing. The environment and the sustainability of the chemistry we are conducting were recurrent themes and certainly stimulated a lot of discussion between meeting participants. I can certainly say I have learnt a huge amount about cutting edge organic chemistry from attending this conference both during the talks and also through more informal discussions with other attendees about their research and interests within organic chemistry.

‘During the conference, I had to opportunity to present both a talk and a poster. Presenting my work on the synthesis of 3,3-diaryloxetanes and dihydrobenzofurans through an oral presentation to an international audience made up of academics, students and industrial scientists was fantastic. Through the experience, I now feel much more confident about presenting and answering questions on my work in such a public forum. In terms of my ongoing research, I was pleased with the interest I received and the discussions around my work. The questions I received both during the session and afterwards provided a lot of useful insight for future directions of the work.

‘I presented a poster on my work focusing on the synthesis of oxetan-3-sulfides and derivatives at both a Sci-Mix (a more informal poster session comprising of a selection of posters from across the meeting) and the "heterocycles and aromatics" posters session. At both sessions I was able to speak with a large number of industrial and academic scientists who were able to provide interesting discussions of my work and made numerous beneficial and practical suggestions. It was great to be able to publicise my work on an international stage and at a conference of such high reputation. The poster sessions were also a great networking opportunity and I was able to make contacts in both industry and academia from all over the world. The experiences and contacts I have gained from attending this world-class conference will undoubtedly have a positive impact on my future career within chemistry.

‘I would like to once again thank SCI for their incredibly generous support without which I would not have been able to attend this excellent meeting. I would also like to thank my supervisor at Imperial Dr James Bull for his support in encouraging me to attend this conference.

‘The entire experience was extremely valuable to me in terms of my confidence presenting, developing a network of contacts and learning more about the chemistry currently being undertaken around the world. I would thoroughly encourage my fellow postgraduate students to attend in the future.’

Rosemary Croft
PhD Student
Imperial College London

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