Travel Award Recipient's Experience

Sally received a Travel Award to attend a national conference and present her research. Opportunities like this are valuable when applying for jobs or grad school and will enrich your college experience. Learn more about our year-round funding opportunities for travel.

Written by Sally Hamry

This spring break I was given the opportunity to attend the 255th ACS National Meeting and Exposition with fellow undergraduates from the University of Nevada, Reno. During this time I went to a diverse set of lectures and presented my own research at the Undergraduate Poster Session. I predominantly went to seminars with a research emphasis on chemical biology because I intend to continue researching topics within this field when I pursue a PhD in chemistry at McGill beginning fall of 2018.

Three students in front of a "True Science" sign at the ACS conference

One of the technical sessions I attended was the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry: Symposium in honor of Lila M. Gierasch. The first talk we listened to in this session was by Sheena Radford from the University of Leeds titled Conformational imprinting and Amyloid Disease. This focused on biophysical methods, which are used determine the how proteins convert into amyloidogenic conformations. This research could allow researchers to find new ways to prevent aggregation and disease caused by the peptides like Abeta and amylin. I enjoyed this lecture and the other lectures held on this day because they focused on solving biological problems using peptide chemistry. This was interesting to me because my current research at the UNR uses peptide chemistry and I have learned a lot about these diseases from previous courses I have taken.

"she asked the fellow scientists in the room to incorporate diversity into the workplace because diversity brings different skills, talent, and ultimately leads to innovation"

Another lecture series I attended was the Remarkable Women in Medicinal Chemistry Symposium. One lecture I found particularly interesting was Amy Newman’s, who spoke about her research on developing medications to treat cocaine and methamphetamine use disorders through studying the dopamine transporter (DAT) and synthesizing DAT inhibitors. Moreover, when her lecture was done, she brought up statistics about women in science. Currently, there are approximately even numbers of women and men graduating with doctoral degrees, however, after graduation it is predominantly men that are given promotions to leadership positions and increases in salary. Through this, she asked the fellow scientists in the room to incorporate diversity into the workplace because diversity brings different skills, talent, and ultimately leads to innovation.

"This was the largest poster session I have ever attended as there were over a thousand students presenting"

In addition, I presented my poster at the Undergraduate Poster Session on Monday March 19th. This experience was invaluable because I was able to practice discussing my research to a room of people with varying backgrounds in science. This was the largest poster session I have ever attended as there were over a thousand students presenting at the same time as me. During this time I met people who had also conducted research on the same quorum sensing bacteria, Streptococcus mutans. This was an invaluable opportunity, as it allowed me to discuss with people in my field.

I truly appreciate Undergraduate Research for assisting me in funding my trip to the ACS conference. This was an enriching experience, which allowed me to expand my knowledge in chemical biology and practice my presentation skills.