Hexacyclinol Showdown: The Biggest Non-Event at the ACS Meeting

By Bethany Halford

Like almost every other chemistry journalist and blogger at the ACS meeting, I spent Wednesday afternoon at the "Total Synthesis of Complex Molecules" symposium, or as I’d come to think of it: "The Hexacyclinol Showdown." You can read C&EN’s news story on hexacyclinol here.

The hexacyclinol debate may have been born in the literature, but it achieved soap opera status in the blogosphere. And when bloggers pointed out that the saga’s two main players—James J. La Clair of the Xenobe Research Institute and Scott Rychnovsky of the University of California, Irvine—both had papers in Wednesday’s session, they predicted La Clair would finally get some kind of comeuppance. UCI’s Iota Sigma Pi even started selling custom-made T-shirts for the event. There was no way I was going to miss it.


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Meeting Day Care

By Linda Wang

At the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) luncheon on Tuesday, I met Jola Macszalek, a graduate student in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. Jola brought up a question that couldn’t be more relevant to some women chemists: Why isn’t day care available at ACS national meetings?

Jola has an 11-month-old daughter whom she had wanted to bring to San Francisco, but because ACS doesn’t offer day care, Jola had to leave her baby at home. She told me she didn’t understand why such a simple service was not offered.

I sought to find an answer for her. After the luncheon, I spoke with Amber Hinkle, chair of WCC, and posed the question to her. Amber told me that it boils down to a liability issue. She offered, however, that all the convention hotels provide lists of reputable day care centers in the area. I’m not sure whether Jola will be satisfied with that answer, but Amber did say that if there is enough interest in the issue, the committee might consider revisiting the topic.

Chemists Making Music

By Maureen Rouhi

Last night, I enjoyed a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of symposium sessions and booth hopping at the exposition. For one-and-a-half hours at the Ralston Room of the Palace Hotel, I and many other meeting attendees simply immersed ourselves in music, piano solos by Victoria Bragin and chamber music from the Caltech Chamber Music Ensemble. The evening offered us a facet of the lives of chemists that is rarely on display.

Bragin retired as a chemistry professor from Pasadena City College in 2002. Her professional career was devoted to chemical education, particularly the development of discovery-based materials to help explain chemistry concepts. Music obviously is central to her life; in 2002, she won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.

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Tchotchke Roundup Returns

By Rachel Petkewich

No candy, pens, or pencils. No literature or periodic tables. And I wasn't stopping my stroll through the vast hall to visit a booth unless something caught my eye from the aisle. Those were my rules for scoping out the best exposition giveaways in Halls B & C of the Moscone Center.


(Photos by Rachel Petkewich)

Although I thought more exhibitors had something beyond business cards than at previous meetings, I didn't find one clear, unique, and ultimate runaway winner this time. Here's my breakdown:

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Tenderbutton For Lunch

By Bethany Halford & Amanda Yarnell

If you're reading this blog, chances are you didn't get here from C&EN's website. No, you probably got here from Dylan Stiles's Tenderbutton blog (assuming Stiles was kind enough to link to us after we bought him lunch on Tuesday). That's okay. We're not afraid to acknowledge Stiles's superior blogging skills.

C&EN staffers who know their way around the blogosphere will tell you that reading Tenderbutton is one of the best ways to procrastinate and still look like you're working.

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Scenes from San Francisco

By Linda Wang

At these national meetings, everyone has a different story to tell. Some are determined to find a job; others are taking everything in stride. Still others have found just enough time in their schedules to squeeze in some shopping.

Enjoy this gallery of scenes from the meeting

Cool Chemical Creations

By Amanda Yarnell

I didn’t intend to come to San Francisco to get a tattoo, but stuff happens. Lucky for me (and my marital bliss), the kind I got today is temporary.

The body art I’m sporting is a structure of serotonin, provided by biophysicist-turned-artist Raven Hanna. Hanna is the brains behind Made With Molecules, a line of chemistry-inspired jewelry, T-shirts, and super-cute duds for baby. C&EN's Ivan Amato recently chronicled Hanna’s life and art.


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Djerassic Art

By Linda Raber

An ACS Presidential Session was held yesterday afternoon to honor the contributions to chemistry, art, and the humanities of Carl Djerassi, professor emeritus of chemistry at Stanford University. Djerassi is perhaps best known as the "father of the birth control pill." He is also a novelist, playwright, and art collector.

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Pocket-Sized Poster

By Bethany Halford

The Sci-Mix poster sessions at ACS meetings are legendary for two things: 1) top-notch posters on every conceivable aspect of chemistry and 2) free drink tickets. But cash in too many of the latter and your memory of the former can get a little hazy.

Somewhere along the line, some bright scholars decided to copy their posters onto a few sheets of paper, making the presentations portable for colleagues who may be too busy (or too tipsy) to take good notes.

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Taking to the Streets

By Linda Wang

On my flight from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco by way of Atlanta, I found myself sitting next to a young woman who I learned was serving in the military. Only 23 years old, she had served in the U.S. Army for the past five years and had been deployed to Iraq twice. She was on her way to visit her family in New Orleans. Their home was destroyed last year by Hurricane Katrina.

For the next hour and a half, we talked about her experiences in Iraq and her struggles to help her family rebuild their life in New Orleans. She described simple pleasures such as seeing jazz ensembles performing again in the French Quarter and eating beignets again at the famous Café du Monde. She had so much optimism that life was getting better for her and her family.

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About This Weblog

Daily dispatches from the 2006 ACS Fall National Meeting in San Francisco from Chemical & Engineering News reporters.

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