2022 Spring Conferences

Kylee Maxfield and I drove down to St. George, Utah in late February to visit Dixie State University for the 2022 Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research. There, she presented a 15 minute talk on our group’s recently completed total synthesis of the natural products clavatadine C and clavatadine D. Quite a few UVU students attended as well, and contributed talks as well as poster presentations.

This was my first UCUR conference. I usually opt out of the local-level events in favor of the really impactful national meetings. This year, however, I started encouraging students to go to local meetings for the experience and when the timing enables them to use it as practice for a bigger meeting. An additional benefit of local meetings is the lower cost to attend for both faculty and students. We’ll definitely be participating at UCUR in future years.

More recently, Kylee and I returned from San Diego where we ventured to the American Chemical Society spring national meeting. It is the first ACS meeting I’ve been able to attend in person since 2018, and Kylee’s first (and probably last). Kylee gave an updated version of the clavatadine C and D talk she gave at UCUR and added in our clavatadine E synthesis results as well. She was one of only two undergraduates in her session to present talks; both had recently graduated. Luckily, Kylee’s husband Brady was able to attend her talk too. Here’s a picture of us at dinner together. Although I’m grateful for the new wide-angle lens on the newer iPhones, the camera definitely adds more than 10 pounds near the edges. A photo of Kylee taken during her talk follows.

Pictured (l to r): Me, Sally Rocks, Michelle Chicas, Kylee Maxfield, Brady (Kylee’s husband), Clayton Rawson
UVU undergraduate Kylee Maxfield speaking at the 2022 Spring ACS meeting

Two other UVU chemistry students presented at the meeting, and UVU Chemistry faculty member Dr. Sally Rocks also travelled with us and presented a talk on our collaborative Structure Determination course for senior undergraduates.That has been a fun course to team teach with other UVU faculty. I teach three weeks of both the lab and lecture section. We focus on how to use 1-D and 2-D NMR spectroscopy to establish atom connectivity in small organic molecules. Another section highlights errors in structure determination and how to use computational (computer-based) methods to predict and confirm structure.

Finally, I gave two talks in person. The first was an invited lecture and panel discussion as part of the special Division of Organic Chemistry symposium titled “Successful Products and Models of Undergraduate-Based Research: Good Science, Better Scientists.” There, I had the opportunity to speak alongside two alumni from UC Irvine: Carolyn Anderson and Tim Clark. Tim and I were both in Keith Woerpel’s group. The second talk covered our group’s published total synthesis of clavatadine B from 2019. I’ve been trying to give this talk in person for two years, but ACS meetings since then were either cancelled or held virtually due to COVID.

Special thanks to the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry, who selected me to receive a $600 PUI Faculty Travel Grant to attend this meeting, and who sponsored the entirety of my travel costs as a result of my participation in the invited “Successful Products” symposium.


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