2018 in Review: Chemistry Student Seminars

Categories: Students

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


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 Researchers are provided with the opportunity to share their work, published and unpublished, with colleagues from different backgrounds, receiving valuable feedback.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 2017-2018 academic year, we hosted 26 talks from the inorganic, physical, organic, and biological divisions of the department. We thank our speakers (see 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. Megan Jackson discussed her work on graphite conjugation to produce unique electrocatalysts that bridge the gap between molecular and heterogenous systems. Her detailed mechanistic studies stimulated many conversations following the talk. Justin Wolfe detailed his exciting interdisciplinary work on therapeutic cell-penetrating peptides that touched on diverse fields from synthetic chemistry to cell biology to machine learning. Our very own Mike Geeson also contributed a talk this year on his efforts towards using phosphoric acid in place of white phosphorus for the synthesis of important phosphorus-containing compounds, work with practical implications in the industrial processing of phosphate minerals.

We also welcomed our third CSS guest speaker, Prof. Sam Thomas from Tufts University. His talk titled “Beyond Alkyl: New Function for Conjugated Materials Through Side Chain Design” attracted a diverse CSS audience across all divisions of the department. Discussions with Prof. Thomas continued throughout the day with graduate students and post-docs in one-on-one meetings and over lunch. The participants in Prof. Thomas’ visit enjoyed his insights on both scientific problems and professional development.

Concluding such a wonderful year of CSS, we are continuing our series of excellent seminars every week in the 2018-2019 academic year. We are constantly working on the development of CSS and welcome your suggestions to improve it. We are also always open to new members on the organizing team and donations to keep this unique student event thriving in the department.

Team CSS – Tim Barnum, Soyoung Kim, Mike Geeson, and Joey Dennis – hope to see you at the next seminar!

Presenters at the 2017-2018 Chemistry Student Seminar Series