40th  Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting

Sponsored by the  New York Section  ACS


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The 40th Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting was sponsored by the New York Section of the ACS and held at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York in Bayside (Queens), New York. The meeting began on Saturday morning, May 17, 2008 and finished at noon on Wednesday, May 21.

This diverse program was composed of 587 invited and contributed abstracts (216 posters) and the conference had approximately 950 registrants. Vital session sponsorships came from 5 ACS Divisions and 28 other companies and organizations.  Eight general corporate sponsorships and a two-day expo that attracted vendors from 21 regional companies financed coffee breaks, a complimentary lunch, facilities charges, the program book, gifts, and other services.

The theme of the conference was Chemistry and Health, which was chosen because of the importance and impact of the health sciences in the New York metropolitan area. Several of the technical symposia were aligned with the theme, though by no means was the meeting restricted to this alone. All traditional fields of chemistry were represented and there were many novel sessions including
* Chemistry and the Arts
* Industrial Chemistry
* Forensic Chemistry
* Environmental Chemistry
* Biotherapeutics

In addition, several special topics were covered in very successful one and two-day symposia on
* Ionic Liquids
* Computational Chemistry for the Health of Humanity and the Planet
* Frontiers of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
* Polymer Chemistry

There were also special symposia honoring the winners of the
* Cope Scholars Award in Organic Chemistry
* Delaware Valley Chromatography Forum Award for 2008
* ACS Regional Industrial Innovation Award.

Evening plenary lectures were given by Ronald Breslow and Roald Hoffmann and each was followed by a very well attended poster session and barbecue.

In addition to presenting a strong and diverse technical program, workshops were held for attendees from all backgrounds: students, academic and industrial chemists, high school teachers, entrepreneurs, job-seekers and future leaders. Programs for students and teachers were concentrated on Saturday and Sunday. Awards were presented to a variety of outstanding individuals and groups. Social events with invited speakers drew people together to help build lasting professional networks.

MARM 2008 had several unique or notable features not found at other meetings.
* A free shuttle bus service was offered to link the meeting, nearby hotels, and the local train station.
* A tour of laboratories at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was given in conjunction with the Chemistry and the Arts symposium. Round-trip transportation was provided free of charge by QCC.

Partnerships with other groups allowed us to host
* a free full-day POGIL workshop for chemical educators
* the spring meeting of the US Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry
* the NY-ACS annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

The primary incentive for working together was the increased attendance exposure expected for both MARM and the outside groups.

Finally, people were encouraged to explore Queens and the rest of the boroughs of New York City as part of the MARM 2008 experience!

The 40th MARM, both by design and through the collaborative nature of scientific meetings, fulfilled many aspects of the ACS Strategic Plan. The conference theme, Chemistry and Health, was well matched to the society’s vision of improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry. This was obviously reflected in sessions such as Medicinal, Clinical, and Environmental Chemistry, HIV/AIDS, Biotherapeutics, Antimicrobials, and Polymers in Medicine. While it is no longer surprising for biological applications to be found in the chemist’s lexicon, at MARM 2008 several traditionally “non-health” symposia highlighted innovative ways that modern chemistry can interface with biology. The true interdisciplinary nature of chemistry was especially notable in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Green Chemistry, Ionic Liquids, and Computational Chemistry.

Year after year, MARM is a dynamic meeting.  Successful events are carried forward and new activities are introduced and tested.  MARM 2008 was no exception. The technical program, plus the vendor expo, awards, social events, and numerous workshops on career building, entrepreneurship, leadership skills, and professional development have resulted in MARM becoming a premier professional meeting for chemists of diverse backgrounds.

Innovative offerings included
* two ACS Leadership Development Workshops
* a full day of workshops for small chemical businesses
* sessions on laboratory probeware exercises

Activities especially for students included
* resume reviews and job search strategies
* a panel discussion on traditional and non-traditional careers
* a short course on Analytical Chemists in Industry
* two workshops by and for ACS Student Affiliates

Public appreciation of the chemical sciences was enhanced in several ways. High school students participated in the regional Chemagination competition. Not only does this encourage young people to explore scientific and technological issues, but many of them were accompanied by their parents who were then exposed to new ideas and concepts.  A special lunchtime lecture was presented by Anne O’Brien (Director, District I) which clearly presented the incredible challenge before scientists in the U.S.  Though it was not always a pleasant perspective, it was certainly timely and not without some optimistic moments. Finally, it is hoped that the process of obtaining welcome letters from numerous local elected officials will encourage them to recognize the vital role of science and scientists in the region.

Inclusiveness was promoted from a regional and a local perspective.   In 2007, students and professionals presented their posters together, rather than holding a separate undergraduate session, as at the national meetings. The 2008 committee agreed to do the same.  Students were exposed to research from a variety of people and settings, and professionals could recruit new group members or employees.   Additionally, all invited sessions were required to accept at least two contributed papers.  Events such as the post-plenary barbecues and the Women Chemists Committee Luncheon brought diverse groups together to socialize in informal settings.  Further, by coupling the barbecues with poster sessions, technical and non-technical aspects of the meeting were successfully integrated. By encouraging the Chemistry Departments of schools in the New York section to participate in MARM, it is hoped that they will become more engaged in local and regional ACS activities.

The process of organizing and running a regional meeting demands a far higher level of effort and commitment than most members can envisage.  Numerous are the obstacles that as a matter of course precede the successful conference.  Ultimately, the experience was extremely satisfying and provided an abundance of benefits.  For participating ACS members the meeting provided a superb forum for the exchange of ideas.  Organizers developed trenchant skills in the core areas such as communication, fundraising and education.  New professional relationships were forged to the benefit of individuals, and institutions throughout the region.  Ultimately, our members become a resource for the organization future events, including MARM.  We are honored to serve in this capacity and are grateful for those who so willingly assisted us to achieve success.


Members of the MARM Organizing Committee (left to right), David Sarno, Paris Svoronos,
Pedro Irigoyen, John Sowa and Jack Norton