The Royal Society of Chemistry's traditionally Europe-based inorganic chemistry meeting, Dalton Discussions, had a nontraditional U.S. locale this year. It also featured some extra U.S. flavor with help from the American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry, which funded the meeting's poster presentations.
Texas A&M University chemistry professor François P. Gabbaï organized the session of some 60 posters. His tasks included obtaining travel grants for students and prize money for a contest.
Fabian Dielmann, a graduate student in the lab of Manfred Scheer at the University of Regensburg, Germany, won a contest for best poster by a grad student or postdoctoral fellow for his presentation on the synthesis of phosphorus ligand complexes with extended phosphorus frameworks. The poster also showed how Scheer used the phosphorus ligand complexes as building blocks in supramolecular coordination compounds.
Other poster winners included Joshua Bates of the University of British Columbia; Vivienne Blackstone of the University of Bristol, in England; Stefan Minasian of the University of California, Berkeley; and Michael Huber of the University of Karlsruhe, in Germany.
Because it's often difficult to decide which posters to visit during a session, Gabbaï also experimented with a new format, which he had seen previously at Gordon Research Conferences. Conference attendees gathered while 15 to 20 poster presenters each gave a one-minute summary of their work, using only one PowerPoint slide.
"This was a way to give teasers for a lot of posters," says John Arnold, a chemistry professor at UC Berkeley and one of the meeting's organizers.
"It was pretty effective," says Frances H. Stephens, a Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist who gave one of the "flash" presentations. Stephens' poster on the development of liquid amine boranes for hydrogen storage won the Best Young Investigator Award. She says the strategy was useful for her own poster-visiting planning. "Being a busy person, I have only so much time to read the abstract book," she says.
Besides, mastering the sound bite can be an important skill for young scientists, Stephens says. "Presenting one's research in a condensed way is probably a really good learning experience."