A Fresh Perspective on an Old City

By Matthew Finn

Having grown up in Connecticut, I have had several opportunities to visit Boston when I was younger.  Although the city was familiar to me, coming here for the ACS conference gave me a fresh perspective on the city.

Since Washington, D.C. is (relatively) close to Boston, my group and I decided to make the trip by car.  The eight-hour drive quickly turned to ten hours with the usual traffic in New York and New Jersey; however, this gave us plenty of time to look over the schedule and plan our week of talks.  The late arrival made it difficult to wake up and get to the convention center for the early morning talks on Sunday, but upon arriving to the convention center and seeing the crowd of people waiting to get their badges and heading off to their sessions, I suddenly had new energy.  I have attended much smaller conferences in the past, and scale of the National Meeting was both overwhelming and inspiring.  It is always refreshing to be in the company of peers, and this was the largest gathering of chemists that I have ever seen.

For me, Boston has always been a city rich in American history, great Italian food, and Yankee-Red Sox rivalry games.  After spending a week at the ACS conference, Boston became a city rich in science.  While I know that a majority of attendees of the conference were visiting just like I was, the number of Boston area attendees was staggering.  Whether it was in hearing the talks and posters from students of the many local schools, or in the time I spent talking with members of industry from Boston area companies, it became clear that the scientific community in the city is robust.

One of the great advantages of the National Meeting is the breadth of topics covered.  I have attended several specialized conferences, and while they are always informative experiences, the National Meeting gives a greater opportunity for an interdisciplinary experience.  The nature of my research covers several topics, so having the opportunity to attend a variety of different sessions through the week was very nice.  I spent my time split between the inorganic, environmental and catalysis sessions, trying to get the most out of my experience.

I presented my poster in the Catalysis session on Monday night of the conference.  While the lack of attendance to this session was a bit disappointing, it did give me the opportunity to visit other posters that were being presented. I was able to gain inspiration and ideas for future directions of my own work while hearing from my peers.

I returned back to DC with not only a fresh perspective on the city of Boston, but also on my own research.  I would like to thank the Chemical Society of Washington for choosing me as the recipient of CSW Student Travel Award and also my advisor, Dr. Adelina Voutchkova-Kostal for her guidance and help in getting me to this point in my graduate career.

Connect with Matthew on Twitter @mfinn711!


The Chemical Society of Washington (CSW) offers a travel award to defray travel and/or registration costs to a National ACS meeting. The award is open to current graduate students in the jurisdiction of CSW. Awardees are asked to share with CSW members something from their experience that impacted their perspective as a chemist.

For more information on the Student Travel Award, please look here. Contact csw@acs.org with additional questions.


Photo credit: harquail CC BY-NC 2.0

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