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My experience in 2018 Telluride Workshop on “Molecular Rotors, Motors and Switches”

by Baihao Shao **GSC Professional Development Support Fund**

11/08/2018

 

With the generous support from Graduate Student Council, I was able to attend the influential workshop titled as “Molecular Rotors, Motors and Switches” in Telluride, Colorado at June of 2018. Leading scientists in our field, including 2016 Nobel laureate in Chemistry (Prof. Sir Fraser J. Stoddart), were invited to the workshop and gave interesting and inspiring presentations during that week. The telluride workshop is known for its condensed size with about sixty participants (including forty professors, and twenty postdocs and graduate students). Ample time was given to have deep discussions in science and establish collaborations.

            I was giving a poster presentation on the first day of the workshop, where I shared recent advances I have achieved in hydrazone-based photochromic molecules in our laboratory with colleagues. During that three hours, I have answered questions raised by my colleagues, who are interested in utilizing our molecules to build up new molecular machines. Meanwhile, I also received rewarding comments and opinions on my current research project and, had insightful discussions that helped to tackle a few problems I carried to the workshop. In addition, I stopped by others’ posters, including the beautiful works we used to discuss in weekly journal club at Chemistry Department, and had very beneficial talks with those researchers.  

            Within that week, about thirty invited speakers, including my advisor Prof. Aprahamian, were presenting the most recent research done in their research groups. Among them, the talk given by Prof. Nobuyuki Tamaoki from Hokkaido University (Japan) left deepest impression on me. His strategy of developing a photoswitchable ATP (AzoTP) to control the biological motor (kinesin) was very impressive. In the video he showed, the visible microtubes driven by kinesin were traveling with UV light, as the AzoTP can be activated with exposure to UV irradiation.  Inspired by his work, I think that interfacing the chemistry with biology in our lab will also deliver interesting research using our photoswitchable hydrazones.

            The most important thing in attending this workshop is that I am able to talk with all the attended professors and young scientists. During the rest periods, I could approach presenters and have further communications on their talks, and also conduct face-to-face conversations with “authors” on confusions and questions generated when reading their publications. In all cases, the professors and young scientist were quite open to discussions and willing to give information as plenty as possible. I was always able to receive more detailed and persuasive explanations on those scientific questions.

            As a second-year graduate student, I really benefit a lot from an experience of participating into a workshop like this. I got a better understanding on the field I worked in and, built up more confidence on carrying out my own research. Not only that, I have better ideas on how the scientific community works and what kind of requirements should be fulfilled in order to be a qualified scientist. In the end, I want to thank Graduate Student Council again for funding me to attend this fantastic workshop!  

 

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