I’m pretty spoiled by being so close to a bunch of really great schools in North Carolina. It’s not often that you can put on a conference on a small focused topic for just folks in your state and have it be a success. And yet, we have NC Photochem!
I received an invitation from Michael Walter at UNC Charlotte to give a talk about battery science (yes, I know it’s not photochemistry, but we all speak the same language!). And then I got the chance to meet (or meet up with) some great folks across the state like Alex Miller (Chapel Hill), Mike Hambourger (App State), Jillian Dempsey (Chapel Hill), and Jay Hanna (Winthrop).
Ellen and Nick joined me for the day in Boone. It was the first time I think they had seen me give a talk in front of an audience on our research. I nailed it! It just felt comfortable and easy, and I credit the atmosphere of the conference for that.
Before coming to Davidson, I was a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories working out of the Livermore, California site. However, Albuquerque is Sandia’s home. Incidentally, the lab is named for the Sandia Mountains, which are named for the rosy color they have during sunset. Just like a watermelon!
This year, I traveled to ABQ for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) Peer Review. It’s a yearly pilgrimage for those interested in issues of grid-scale energy storage. With my research funding from OE, this means I, too, make the pilgrimage and get to show off the good work we’ve been doing over the past year.
For those of you not in the know, the American Chemical Society hosts two meetings are year, which gathers together chemists from all across the spectrum to talk about everything and anything related to chemistry. I’ve seen talks about perovskite-based solar cells, CUREs in an undergraduate curriculum, celebrations of lifetime achievements, networking and job hunting, posters and talks given by people from all across the planet… the list goes on and on.
This year, I wanted to bring along Claudia, Nick, Ellen to experience the spectacle. Nick and Claudia both presented their research in the session called “Undergraduate Research at the Frontiers of Inorganic Chemistry.” Ellen gave a poster in the same associated poster session. But what I was most impressed by was their ability to take it all in. Nick was running hard back and forth between hotels as he tried to see as many potential future PIs as he could. Ellen and Claudia spent time at the graduate school information round table discussions as well as the “Exploring Global Opportunities” session. They are all a little bit more prepared for what awaits them after Davidson, and I’m so happy we did it together.
For some like myself, the meetings are also a terrific time to catch up with old friends who have been scattered across the country. One of my first undergraduate researchers, Nicole Torquato, is now at UC San Diego working with Cliff Kubiak. She sent me a text saying “where are you?” and in two minutes, she pops through the door of a research talk to sit right next to me. Stuart Smith and Miriam Bowring were fellow Bergman students who are now at ExxonMobil and Reed College, respectively, and we just all happened to bump into each other. My students really bonded with Miriam’s student Lexi (sorry if I’m spelling that wrong). I got to say hi to Ian Tonks face-to-face for the first time and see some of the research that my buddy Neil is doing with his students at Penn.
It’s possible I’ll be heading to the next meeting in Philadelphia, but the jet lag is killing me right now. I’m not going to think about it right now!