Monday, March 19, 2012

Organic Catalysis at Harvard

There are many amazing things about the city of Boston.

We have beaches and snow; we have world famous art museums and the American Revolution started in our backyard. But, for budding Chemists, Boston has a precious resource that would be criminal to ignore.

Schools. Really big, really old, really fancy, and extremely respected schools.

I'm talking about those big names: Harvard, Tufts, WPI, BU, Emerson, MIT, Northeastern, Suffolk, the University of Massachusetts, and many more. Because of their prestige, colleges like these are regularly able to invite professors and other important people from across the country and world to speak and lecture at their schools. Even better, most of these lectures are free to attendees and open to the public. Since we're only a half hour from the city, we decided that we should take advantage of this.

So an elite team was formed to conduct an investigation. This team was ordered to peruse the schools of Boston, finding the most epic and interesting speakers and lectures that would be held in the following month.  This team of experts included myself and Stacy S., and we received quite a bit of support from the Chemistry professors and ACS officers. After two rounds of voting, the chapter decided to attend an Organic Chemistry Talk at Harvard on Feb 27th called “Reaction Design and Catalysis with Aromatic Ions”, given by Tristan Lambert of Columbia University.

There were 6 people who ended up being able to go, including two people who had never been to an ACS meeting before: Shanell P. and Alanah P. In addition to them, we were joined by myself, Justin A., Ben S., and Stacy S. We got there in the nick of time and sat down to enjoy a wonderful lecture.

 Heading out to the lecture!

Dr. Lambert spoke about the research he and his research group were conducting back at Columbia. They have been working with aromatic ions (specifically, cyclopropenium ions) and exploring their use in catalyzing common organic reactions. Because we are a chapter that is very focused on green Chemistry, we were excited to hear his concern about the atom economy and general wastefulness of common organic reactions. It was especially exciting to note that he almost never mentioned the word "green" during the lecture; he just considered this to be a common sense concern. In addition, he was able to not only catalyze these reactions with a great atom economy, his group often increased the yield and speed of the reactions they explored. All in all, it was a great and very exciting lecture.

They're on the steps of Harvard's Chemistry building. It's ok to be jealous.

After the lecture, we went to Fire and Ice, which was literally across the street from our parking (what luck!). We enjoyed a wonderfully yummy and well priced dinner, and headed back to Gordon.

 Why are they so happy?

Ahh, there's the reason. You can be jealous again.

Trips like this are slated to occur every quad, so if you know of any talks happening in Boston or would like to come with us, don't hesitate to let me know!

Thanks to the ACS for funding, and to Justin A. for being a gracious driver!