RACI National Congress Day 5 and Wrap-up

Sadly the RACI congress has now come to a close. This was my first large scale, multidisciplinary conference and it has been an excellent experience. Top notch presentations, great atmosphere, very accessible speakers, nice location and excellent variety (both in the science and the chocolate bar each day in the lunch pack). Hope you have all enjoyed following along here, please let me know what you thought of the posts (email, twitter, comment) as I’m still a pretty new blogger!

Daniel Nocera, Harvard University – “The Artificial Leaf”

Taking inspiration from nature is a well-weathered technique in organic chemistry and what better process to apply that to than photosynthesis. While there are many groups around the world working on the photocatalytic splitting of water, Nocera takes this concept to the next level. The process is performed in a solar cell with a self-healing bio-inspired electrode. This should mean longer lifetimes and more reliable energy production.

mit-artificial-leaf

Hydrogen bubbles from Nocera’s “Artificial Leaf”

The best prototype so far is up around 15% efficiency, which according to Nocera beats out even higher order plants (topping out at about 6%). There is still work to be done in making “The Artificial Leaf” commercially viable but progress is being made and the concept is truly alluring.

Congress wrap-up

To follow on from RenĂ©e Webster’s example, here is a quick summary of my likes/dislikes of the 2014 RACI National Congress:

The Good

  • Plenary speakers were exceptional, good variety and mix of applied/blue sky research
  • Talks mostly kept on time
  • Lunch bags (grab, go and eat on the river or attend the lunchtime panels)
  • Lots of coffee machines
  • Plenary discussion panels – big props for this
  • Well organised student trivia night (we came second!)
  • Collegial atmosphere between students, academics and plenaries alike
  • Excellent conference app (updated daily, searchable, ability to make own schedule)
  • Proximity to good bars and pubs!

The Bad

  • Lack of social media promotion during congress (Only two tweets from @RACI_HQ during the entire week), suggest a curator for the next congress
  • No funding for student events
  • No poster or presentation prizes
  • Bar tab at the poster session (ran out in 15-30 mins), drinks tickets far preferable!
  • Some gaps / short sessions (not apparent in the org. chem sessions though…)
  • Frequent clashes between med chem and org. synthesis (hard to please everyone though)
  • Terrible wifi and internet connectivity
  • Lack of abstracts on the conference app (later realised you could download a pdf of abstracts but could have been clarified in opening remarks)

Gripes aside, the organisation of such an event must have been a massive undertaking. Credit to Joe Shapter and others for a successful meeting. Thanks to those who read all of these updates.

Hope to see you all again at the 2017 Centennial Anniversary Celebration Congress in Melbourne!

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