The National Meeting of the American Chemical Society is one of the most important events in the field of chemistry in the US. It’s held twice a year and brings together thousands of chemists, scientists, researchers, educators, and students from all over the world to share their latest research findings, innovations, and discoveries. Shippensburg University took nine of their graduating seniors, and five faculty members to the conference this year with the support of the Shippensburg University Foundation.

Former Ship chemistry student, now faculty, Dr. Jeb Kegerreis reminisces, “Back then (early 2000’s) doing undergraduate research was a bit more rare and going to conferences was a lot more rare. I did well as a student here and I was actually one of the kids that got to do that experience, and it really helped me in terms of preparing for graduate study. Just exposing an undergraduate to the bigger scene of science is something that’s good for them to feel.”

The Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry is one of the many divisions within the American Chemical Society that focuses on specific areas of chemistry. Ship students Jordan Scalia and Bret Watson won 2nd place in the ACS Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry poster competition entitled Maintenance of a Kombucha Starter Preparation.  Jordan said, “It was really cool to see all these people in one place learning about chemistry. It was refreshing that the people I talked to had a genuine interest in what I had to say. I was shocked to get 2nd place, and Bret and I were happy to make Dr. Richardson and Dr. Kegerreis proud of our work.”

Placing 2nd in a poster competition at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society is a significant achievement. It indicates that the work presented was of high quality and relevance to the field. Winning a poster competition can also provide valuable recognition and exposure for the researchers and their institution. “It really speaks to the kind of work that we do here because we’re not those big name schools. The work that’s being done, though, is on par with those big schools,” said Dr. Kegerreis. Professor Dr. John Richardson, proprietor of Cultured Analysis, an on-campus kombucha testing company said, “Lauren Shearer, co-owner of Cultured Analysis, who graduated last year, took a very active role in actually advising these students and helping them with their research. It’s a great opportunity for research and development for the company, and it’s also a great way to enhance the student experience at Ship. It’s really a way of giving back.”

The national meeting featured a wide range of activities, including lectures, symposia, poster sessions, and workshops, covering all areas of chemistry, like organic and inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, and materials science. It provided opportunities for networking, career development, and professional advancement. Participants met with leading experts in their fields, explored job opportunities, and learned about the latest trends and technologies.  Participant Elise Hutzel said, “What didn’t we learn? This experience was very humbling. It was also really positive because it showed all that is out there. Sometimes we get caught in our little niche here at Shippensburg so it was great that we got to present our research in front of people from other universities, professors, and different types of recruiters.”

Lieke Black is excited to graduate with the class of 2023 and move into the workforce. She said, “I am a graduating senior, and my plan is to move to Chambersburg for the job offer I got at the WellSpan Hospital. I will be working in the clinical lab as a lab assistant. I think that the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society allowed me to work in a more professional atmosphere and emphasize the research that I have done for the past two semesters with my groupmates and professors. This meeting gave me more confidence with the material I have learned, and allowed me to broaden my horizons for my future.”

Student Amanda Conyslman said, “It was cool to see what everyone was doing at their schools, and how every program is different. At the Expo part, we had the opportunity to check out the latest technology, and it was cool to see what’s out there.” Attending the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society is an excellent way for students to gain exposure to the scientific community, and establish valuable connections that can help them advance their careers. Poster sessions are a common feature of scientific conferences where participants present their research findings on large poster boards that summarize their work visually and concisely. Student Breille Etze said, “It was awesome and I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. It was worth all the hours we put into it.”

Participating in the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society and placing in a poster competition is a highly prestigious achievement for undergraduate college students, especially in the field of chemistry. The American Chemical Society is the largest scientific society in the world, with over 150,000 members, and is highly regarded for its contributions to the advancement of the chemical sciences. Being selected to present research is a great honor, as it is a highly competitive and selective process. This event brings together the best and brightest minds in chemistry from around the world, providing a unique opportunity for students to showcase their work, network with other professionals in the field, and gain exposure to the latest advancements in chemistry. This is a testament to the quality and significance of the research being conducted by undergraduate college students at Shippensburg University, and shows that our students are performing at the highest levels in their field and are contributing meaningful research to the scientific community.