Studying Wine in San Francisco

The Chemical Society of Washington (CSW) offers a travel award to defray travel and/or registration costs to a National ACS meeting. The award is open to current graduate students in the Jurisdiction of the CSW. Awardees are asked to share with CSW members something from their experience that impacted their perspective as a chemist.


By Madeleine Bee

While the average college student might dread the idea of attending chemistry presentations all day long for a whole week, I was ecstatic. The ACS national meeting was most certainly one of the highlights of my summer. I spent the majority of my time in the Agricultural and Food Chemistry sessions. On the first day of the conference I was a major fangirl for Harold McGee, the father of modern food science and kitchen chemistry, who gave the opening speech for the presentations in the Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division.

Though I’m going into the final year of my chemistry major, I’m hoping to go on to pursue a Ph.D. in Food Science, and what better to study than wine? (Is this not every college students dream?) One feature of this year’s conference in particular was the Advances in Wine Research symposium. Applying analytical chemistry techniques to wine and grape analysis and working in flavor chemistry is definitely not for most college students (sorry guys), but it is for me! I learned so much about the field and was really able to narrow my interests and how my experiences in chemistry research connect to the food science world.

Fangirling aside, I did get the chance to present a poster. I spoke on behalf on my school’s unique advanced research class at SciMix and the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry poster sessions. Rather than having upper level labs for each class like a typical chemistry curriculum, American University extracts all the techniques from each lab, combining them into one class that allows students to do novel, relevant research. The poster I presented covered our work on gold nanoparticles trapped inside the fibrous structure of widely-available proteins, and some applications we’d been investigating for these structures including quantum dots and tissue regeneration.

Thanks to sponsorship by the Chemical Society of Washington, I was able to present my research, attend sessions, network, and see the beautiful city of San Francisco with a great glass of wine. For my first ACS conference, I could not have asked for a better experience.

For more information on the Student Travel Award, please look here. Contact [email protected] with additional questions.