2017 in Review: Chemistry Student Seminars

Categories: Postdocs, Research, Students

The Chemistry Student Seminar (CSS) is a student-run weekly seminar series open to the members of the MIT Chemistry community.

Achievements of the 2016-2017 Academic Year

The Chemistry Student Seminar (CSS) is a student-run weekly seminar series open to the members of the MIT Chemistry Department. As the organizers of CSS, we aim to create an open environment for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from all the divisions in the department to present their research. Through the CSS series, we seek to enhance our community’s understanding of diverse research topics and to stimulate discussion across all divisions of chemistry. Researchers are provided with the opportunity to share their work, published and unpublished, with colleagues from different backgrounds, receiving valuable feedback. CSS talks can also serve as practice for upcoming job talks, oral exams, and conference presentations.

In the 2016-2017 academic year, we hosted 29 talks from the inorganic, physical, organic, and biological divisions of the department. We thank our speakers (see table below) very much for their contributions! We also extend our gratitude to all those who attended the talks and initiated stimulating discussions after the seminars over donuts, bagels and coffee.

Here, we highlight a few of the talks. Maggie He, a postdoctoral researcher from the Swager lab, shared her work on the functionalization of carbon nanomaterials. She remarked that it was a “great opportunity to practice giving a talk and answering questions.” She also liked “the friendly atmosphere and the mug” that CSS speakers receive as a token of appreciation. Sucheol Shin, a graduate student in the Willard group, presented a model that describes water molecules at interfaces with high efficiency based on the simple physical principles of the hydrogen bonds. He said, “I felt really great when other chemistry fellows told me that they could grab some interesting take-home messages from my talk with no large difficulty.” Jules Stefan, a graduate student from the Nolan lab, shared his work regarding methionine oxidation of calprotectin and how it influences the stability of the protein against degradation. He commented after the talk, “I had a lot of fun presenting my work, and I was glad to see that the audience was engaged because they asked a lot of good questions.”

We also welcomed our second CSS guest speaker, Prof. Sarah Delaney from Brown University. Her talk titled “DNA Base Excision Repair in Nucleosomes” was rich with scientific details while clearly conveying the big picture of her research to the diverse CSS audience. The presentation was well-received and the Q&A continued until the room had to be emptied for a class. In addition to the talk, the guest speaker held individual meetings with students and post-docs throughout the day, and at lunch she shared valuable insights and experiences from her walk in the academic path.

Concluding such a wonderful year of CSS, we are looking forward to the 2017-2018 academic year. We are continuously working on the development of CSS and welcome your suggestions to improve it. We are also always open to donations to keep this unique student event thriving in the department.

Presenters at the 2016-2017 Chemistry Student Seminar Series