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ACS News

No place like home

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
August 28, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 34

Last week, the American Chemical Society hosted in Washington, D.C., the 254th ACS National Meeting. Although a large portion of the society’s staff is based at CAS in Columbus, Ohio, you could say that D.C. is our home turf because our headquarters are located here. And there is no place like home to celebrate chemistry.

This D.C. meeting came after the record-breaking San Francisco spring event, where nearly 19,000 attendees gathered to talk chemistry, so we started the fall meeting on a high.

And the high continued for the C&EN team. Last week, we were proud to host the second edition of C&EN’s Talented 12 symposium. It was the third time that we featured young scientists in the chemical sciences in this way in the magazine but only the second time that we also held a live event.

Our keynote speaker, Caltech’s Harry Gray, kicked the morning off, and he was eloquent, entertaining, and insightful. He spoke about his early days and reflected on key events in his life during that time, sharing his view on the thrills of starting an independent career in chemistry and providing guidance on the challenges.

One of the things Gray told the Talented 12 is that “your students think you are better than you really are.” He cautioned that “it’s okay to make mistakes” and insisted that early-career researchers must make sure “your students understand you can be wrong.” He also advised to “hang out with other chemists”—which is not difficult during ACS national meetings—and treasure the moments spent with students and postdocs, especially early in your career, because many will become lifelong friends. He also made a tongue-in-cheek comment about it being okay to collaborate with physicists too, as occasionally they may have ideas worth exploring.

Gray was followed by the Talented 12, who gave TED-style talks highlighting their lines of research. They represented academia, industry, and government and discussed all manner of science, including bioelectronics, immunotheranostics, synthetic opioids, superresolution microscopy, and a field whose name I think was first coined by one of the Talented 12: metalloendocrinology.

These sessions were recorded, so you will be able to get a flavor of what happened when we publish them on C&EN’s newly revamped YouTube channel. We’ll give you a heads up via social media and our newsletters when they are ready to be viewed in a few weeks. If you can’t wait, you can read more about the Talented 12 at

We are already accepting suggestions for 2018, and the nomination form is up and running at If you think you have what it takes to become a member of the Talented 12 or know someone who does, please nominate. In 2017, we received over 150 nominations, of which 50% were put forward by our panel of experts and 50% came from the nomination form.

In terms of other ACS national meeting news and events, you can find highlights in the pages that follow or read our coverage in full at You can also watch our archived broadcasts from key events from the meeting through C&EN’s Facebook channel. These broadcasts include a lively panel discussion with the Talented 12, a 360° video of attendees watching the eclipse while our reporters answered questions about why you shouldn’t stare at the sun, a tour of Sci-Mix and what it’s all about, an interview with the three professors we profiled in our “A year in the life of a new professor” feature, a conversation with ACS President-Elect Peter Dorhout about chemical safety, and more.

See you next spring in New Orleans.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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