Bucket List Achievement Unlocked

By Karina Herrera-Guzman

Traveling is an obsession of mine. Since I started to study chemistry as an undergraduate student, I always dreamed about the possibility of traveling. I had heard that science gave you that opportunity. Science isn’t only about exploring the basis of knowledge; it’s also about exploring different cultures and networking with different disciplines. We do that because it helps us to better understand the fascinating world in which we live. I have attended several conferences before this one, but experiencing an ACS National Meeting is an event that I always wanted to check off my bucket list.

At the beginning, I was totally in my head. A combination of adrenaline and nerves was seriously messing with me. Every time I get in front of an audience, it is very difficult to control my anxiety. As the other members of that conference slot were developing their presentations, something magical happened. A sudden calm came over, and I managed to say to myself “You are here. Just enjoy this achievement.” Later, when it was my turn, I felt very confident and started to present what for me has been one of the most challenging but also fulfilling projects in my professional career. I spoke about organic chemistry with a switch into the biological applications and received very good suggestions and interesting questions.

After presenting, everything was clearer. I really liked the talks from other applications of chemistry like Food Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry. Networking was an exciting experience because when you are so focused on your own research you tend to became self-involved and it is complicated to speak out about your interests without sounding so technical. Besides, the exhibition boots surprised me with all the technology that helps your research to be more productive and because it is impressive to discover those brand new equipment. When the conference was over, I felt ready for the next scenario on my career with an extremely positive vibe for the future.

Best of all, I got to play tourist. Besides the most touristic attractions such as the aquarium and the Hay Market; walking along the Charles River, Downtown, Harvard Square and the Copley Plaza makes the adventure a whole. The people is very friendly and the food is amazing. You always have the feeling of smiling all the time. The architecture impressed me; the appreciation of crystal façade buildings in contrast with the old stone constructions gives you the sensation of being in a puzzle. I felt like they could all fit together in some amazing and complicated 3D puzzle..

Now that I am in the final stages of earning my Ph.D. in Chemistry, I checked back on my old bucket list and I was finally able to cross out that missing item. Thanks to the Chemical Society of Washington for helping make that happen for me!


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.


Photo credit: Chris Avery / CC BY 2.0

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