BU to host hundreds at chemistry meeting

By Henry Eckels

Hundreds of chemists from across the country are coming to Waco this weekend to attend the 67th Southwest regional meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Baylor’s department of chemistry and biochemistry will help host the conference, which will be in town from Saturday to Tuesday at the Waco Convention Center.

Dr. Robert Kane, associate professor of Baylor’s chemistry department, said he had been vouching for Baylor’s chance to host a meeting for years.

“I put in a bid for this twelve years ago, when our department was very different,” Kane said. “We were located in a smaller building and had a smaller faculty. Now that our department is larger, the ACS considered us for hosting one of their annual meetings.”

Kane said there is a sort of prestige that comes with hosting an ACS meeting because it allows universities to show off the strength of their academic programs and research departments.

“ACS is the biggest scientific community in the world, as far as active members,” Kane said. “This is the first time we’ve ever had it in Waco. It’s sort of like our coming out party, our debut.”

Barbara Rauls, administrative assistant for Baylor’s department of chemistry, said the conference would include scientists and researchers from all across the American Southwest.

“Professors from 23 different universities are coming to give lectures and share research,” Rauls said. “Renowned chemists from all over the United States are coming to give high profile lectures and sell chemistry research equipment.”

Some of the scheduled events for this meeting include Baylor’s annual Gooch-Stephens Lectures in chemistry, featuring a presentation by Dr. Donald R. Blake, professor of chemistry and earth system science at the University of California- Irvine.

Kane said that although any undergraduate student can register online to attend the conference for a $30 fee, it will primarily be for those students interested in chemistry and biochemistry.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for Baylor students interested in chemistry and biochemistry to really explore the depth and interest of this field of study,” Kane said.

However, there are a couple of events at the meeting that are free of charge for Baylor students.

The Gooch-Stephens Lectures and Reception, the graduate school fair and the W. Dial Black Family Lecture are a few of the free events Baylor students can attend this weekend.

Kane said hundreds of chemists, professors, students and graduate students have registered for the conference.
“There are over 800 people coming to the ACS meeting this weekend,” Kane said. “About one-third of those consist of faculty, another one-third consist of graduate students and the rest are a mixture of undergrads, chemists and other researchers.”

Rauls said the meeting is not just for people with a college education.

“There will be a program for high school students on Saturday as well, for those students interested in majoring in chemistry when they go to college,” Rauls said. “Along with the food from the receptions, it could be an event for all ages.”