2011 German Exchange Report
Building International Connections

This spring the German Chemical Society (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, GDCh) and its Young Chemists Forum (Jung-Chemikerfo- rum, JCF) welcomed 12 representatives from NESACS’s Younger Chemists Committee (YCC). The dele- gates included ten graduate and two undergraduate students whom had been selected during the fall by the German Exchange steering committee. Dr. Patrick Gordon (Emmanuel College and NESACS Chair), Dr. Ruth Tanner (University of Massachusetts Lowell and NESACS Chair Elect), Dr. John Podobinski (Cerulean Pharma, Inc.) and April Jewell (Tufts University and YCC Chair) accompanied the students on the trip to Erlangen, Germany.

The experience began three weeks before the departure for Germany when the local participants met at Strem Chemicals for a tour of the facility and to share a sneak-peak of our research projects. A few weeks later, our international journey began on March 20th with our arrival in Erlangen where we were greeted by Evelyn Wuttke (JCF Chair), Markus Happel (Organizing Committee Chair for the Frühjahssymposium) and Elisabeth Kapatsina (GDCh Education Office), all of whom acted as our guides for the week’s various activities.
The Frühjahssymposium (Spring Symposium) began on Wednesday night with a welcome reception and was in full swing for the remainder of the week with plenary lectures, invited lectures and student presentations. The plenary lecturers included Dr. Hans- Joachim Freund, a physical chemist who works in the areas of heterogeneous catalysis and surface chemistry at the Fritz Haber Institute, and Dr. Leticia González, a theoretical chemist at the University Jena whose research focuses on modeling photochemically driven molecular rotation.
Three students from our local section contributed oral presentations at the conference, including Kathryn Bewley (Boston University), Laura Brozek (Boston College) and Joseph Wzorek (Harvard University). The remaining delegates presented posters on their research on Thursday after- noon and Saturday morning. Through- out the conference, our students had many opportunities to network and socialize with the JCF constituents. At the conclusion of the conference, awards were given for outstanding oral and poster presentations. Out of the > 200 presenters, three from the NESACS/YCC group were awarded with these prestigious recognitions – one-third of the total prizes awarded. For their talks, Kathryn Bewley and Joseph Wzorek won the 2nd and 3rd place prizes, respectively; and Allison Greene (Boston College) won the 2nd place poster prize. Each award included a certificate and a chemistry related textbook.
Our week also included several chemistry-related activities. During a visit to the University Erlangen-Nürnberg we learned much about the exciting chemistry taking place in the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy. To learn about their ongoing research activities, visit their website at http://www.chemie.uni-erlangen.org/ index.shtml. At the company Eckart we were treated to an informative presentation about the business of manufacturing and marketing so called “effect pigments” and a tour of the facility where such pigments are made. We also visited Knauf Gips – a company that specializes in building materials. While at Knauf we were lead into an active mine where the company acquires the raw materials for its dry wall and insulation products. We also toured the production factory, the logistics center and their R & D center, which included highly sophisticated, cutting-edge instrumentation. The facilities at Eckart and Knauf are not typically open to the public – in fact, we were forbidden from taking pictures with our own cameras! Even so, our guides were informative and highly forthcoming when answering all of our questions. We are grateful to our GDCh/JFC hosts for arranging these activities and to the companies for allowing us such unrestricted access.

The trip wasn’t all business, however, as we had opportunities to visit the many beautiful tourist attractions in southern Germany. One particularly pleasant afternoon included a trip to Würzberg for a guided tour of Residenz Würzberg – the palatial former residence of the Würzberg prince- bishop. The exchange participants will also all fondly remember the Conference Party, for which the organizers reserved a private room at a nightclub in Erlangen’s city center. We danced the night away with over 100 of our new friends!

Overall, the 11th Annual NSYCC/ NESACS – JCF/GDCh Exchange was another in a long line of successful exchanges between the two organizations. We not only learned about the exciting and ongoing research efforts of our European counterparts, but we also developed some wonderful new friend- ships. The 14th Frühjahssymposium will be in Rostock, Germany in March 2012, and promises to be a rich experience for all involved. Students in the NESACS region should be on the lookout for application materials in the fall of 2011.
2011 Exchange Participants: Sadik Antwi-Boampong (Dartmouth College), Kathryn Bewley (Boston University), Laura Brozek (Boston College), Melissa Brulotte (Bridgewater State University), Katie Ellis (Boston University), Allison Greene (Boston College), Lauren Gregor (Boston University), Timothy Law- ton (Tufts University), June Lum (Boston University), Alexander Speed (Harvard University), Anupong Tang- peerachaikul (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Joseph Wzorek (Harvard University).

During the groups" visit to Knauf, we were taken into a live mine. While we were there, the explosives experts explained how the raw materials for Knauf's drywall were obtained. The photo shows us posing with a statue of Saint Barbara - the patron saint of mines.

Photo courtesy: Evelyn Wuttke