In Pursuit of Dr Molenium

By Viviana Monje-Galvan

I have been in graduate school for three years, during which I had the opportunity to present my work in posters or talks several times at national meetings. However, this was the first time I attended an ACS Meeting. As some of you may be able to relate, I was anxious about giving a talk and also visiting a new city.

Attending the ACS meeting was a great experience. I met new people in my field with whom I hope to remain in contact. I firmly believe that networking in this type of events is critical, and probably one of the best parts of them. It helps to stablish connections that may result in future collaborations, or that could open doors later on to help my own students. Most importantly, it put me one step closer to achieving my career goal of becoming a research professor.

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Dr. Molenium image reused from ACS National Meetings (@ACSNatlMtg)

During the conference, I mostly attended sessions related to computational work, and some sessions with experimental approaches that can help me improve my own research. I also visited by the Exhibit hall several times to check out the publishers’ corner and in pursuit of Dr Molenium! (The cool mole that was the mascot of the conference). As far as touring the city goes, there was just so much to see in so little time – I will definitely return to Denver to visit its museums and close by national parks and wild life reserves.

I am originally from Bolivia, and came to the United States eight years ago. I started my undergraduate studies at Montgomery College to then transfer to the University of Maryland-College Park (UMD). In both places, I made good friends from a variety of cultural backgrounds, who helped me adjust to the new culture and life style.

My background is in chemical engineering, and my interest in biology-related research started when I volunteered at my advisor’s lab as an undergraduate. I worked on a research project doing computer simulations. Although challenging at first, it was a truly rewarding opportunity that prepared me to then apply and participate in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Alabama during the summer of 2011. It was through these two experiences that I learned about a career in scientific research and discovered how much I really enjoy it.

I feel blessed having the opportunity to attend graduate school and to have the tools to pursue a career in academic science. The academic formation in Bolivia, at least in my field of engineering, is mainly industry oriented. Unfortunately, there really is no incentive for students to get involved in research over there. The resources for research are limited and there is not even much talk about graduate school for engineering majors. I have kept in touch with friends from Bolivia who majored in environmental, chemical, or food processing engineering, and they tell me the situation is still difficult for students who want to get involved in research. My ultimate goal is to have a career in academia, I hope to one day collaborate with other professors in Bolivia that are already motivating students to perform research in pure sciences like chemistry and physics.

Going to Denver was a major milestone on my path to an academic future. I hope to attend future ACS meetings to continue to expand my professional network and contribute to the ongoing development of science.

Connect with Viviana on Twitter (@vmonjeb)!


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 CSW. Awardees are asked to share with CSW members something from their experience that impacted their perspective as a chemist.

For more information on the Student Travel Award, please look here. Contact csw@acs.org with additional questions.


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