The North Carolina Section of the American Chemical Society is hosting the 2023 Southeast Regional Meeting (SERMACS) Oct. 25–28 at the Durham Convention Center in Durham, North Carolina. The meeting theme is “Chemistry Con: Where Chemistry, Creativity, and Innovation Intersect.” Details can be found at sermacs2023.org.
Technical program. Highlights of the meeting include keynote talks scheduled throughout the week. Speakers include Claudia Turro from the Ohio State University; Holden Thorp fromScience; Reña Robinson from Vanderbilt University; Robert Tycko from the National Institutes of Health; Ann Yolish from Merck & Co.; and Nobel laureate Robert Lefkowitz from Duke University.
Technical programming includes oral and poster sessions in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, catalysis, inorganic chemistry, molecular science, nanocellulose research, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, polymer chemistry, and synthetic fuels, among other topics. A neXus event will focus on the regional issues related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The Southeastern Magnetic Resonance Conference is running alongside SERMACS and also has a full technical program.
In addition to the technical programming, there will be a diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect (DEIR) symposium with speakers from Louisiana State University, Dow, and JSP Coaching, as well as sessions on chemical education, LGBTQ+ experiences, public engagement, and communication.
Workshops. A variety of technical and personal development workshops will be offered. These include two Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists (COACh) workshops offered in partnership with the Women Chemists Committee: “Career Launch and Acceleration” and “The Art of Effective Negotiation.” The “Introduction to Python for Chemists” workshop will introduce the programming language and its applications to chemistry. The ACS leadership workshop “Engaging and Motivating Volunteers” will offer practical tools to encourage and engage volunteers to ensure they are successful, fulfilled, and motivated to participate in future volunteer assignments. The “Trust in Science” workshop will use elements of humor to help ACS members learn how they can become trusted voices for science and scientists. There will also be a workshop introducing RAMP—a concept that uses four steps—recognize, assess, minimize, and prepare—to improve chemical laboratory safety.
For students and postdoctoral scholars, the “Acing the Interview—Outshining the Competition” workshop on Thursday will offer strategies and techniques to develop an extremely effective interview. This course will provide practice interview scenarios and will help participants leave a lasting impression with hiring managers. There will also be résumé reviews for job seekers who would like some tips on how to stand out.
Undergraduate programming. On Friday, a speaker panel featuring ACS president Judith C. Giordan will explore careers in academia, industry, government, and entrepreneurship. On Saturday there will be a “Finding Your Pathway” symposium discussing career path options after undergraduate degrees, an undergraduate poster session and awards presentation, and a graduate school fair. Booth reservations for schools wishing to participate in the fair are available on the meeting website.
K–12 Educators Day. On Saturday morning, there will be a K–12 Educators Day, which will include a workshop on safely managing chemicals. There will also be a presentation on the new North Carolina standards for educators and a demonstration of safe and fun classroom experiments. Participants can earn continuing-education credits, and lunch will be included.
Exposition. A reception on Wednesday evening will kick off the exposition, which will run through Friday. Booth reservations for exhibitors are available on the meeting website.
Awards. Awards presented at the meeting include the Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences, the ACS Division of Chemical Education Southeastern Regional Award for Excellence in High School Teaching, the E. Ann Nalley Regional Award for Volunteer Service to ACS, the SERMACS Industrial Innovation Award, and the Partners for Progress and Prosperity Award. The award luncheon will take place Thursday, and the High School Teacher Awards Lunch will take place Saturday.
Social events. There is an opening reception Wednesday, DEIR reception Thursday, Nobel reception Friday, and undergraduate reception Saturday. The Senior Chemists Luncheon is Wednesday, and the Women Chemists Luncheon Thursday. Two downtown Durham walking tours are available on the meeting website: the City of Medicine walking tour focuses on the history of Durham, and the Downtown Durham Tasting Tour is a culinary tour of celebrated downtown Durham eateries. Attendees can sign up to join other attendees at local restaurants, network with one another, and experience all that the area has to offer.
Lodging and registration. Early-bird registration for the meeting ends at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 22, but you can register at the on-site rate through the end of the meeting. The opportunity to reserve a room at a reduced rate at the Marriott Durham City Center ends at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 3.
Nina Notman is a freelance writer based in Salisbury, England.