Plenary Session 2: Photosynthetic Machines and Ultrafast Energy Transfer
The first plenary this morning was given by Greg Scholes of Princeton University. His presentation was directed towards the more physics-inclined among us, particularly those interested in solar energy conversion and its ecological applications. He talked about ‘light harvesting complexes’ and ‘quantum coherence’, which I found quite hard to follow, but as he was an engaging speaker it was a good wake-me-up session nonetheless.
Plenary Session 3: Making the Tiniest Machines
David Leigh from the University of Manchester had the audience eating out of the palms of his hands the moment he stepped on to the stage. What a true showman! It didn’t matter what his talk was about, his presentation was pure magic – literally! Not only did he reassemble seemingly torn up pieces of newspaper together seamlessly, but he also grabbed with his hands the red dot from a Power Point clicker away from the projector screen and started to carry it around across the room like a baby bird. Along with a few other tricks up his sleeve, he performed these magical acts just to prove a point. The point was to show the technological potential of the world’s tiniest machines, particularly nano-scale motors, for which the architectures draw from biological processes. He also showed us a cool video clip of a molecular robot mimicking life’s protein-builder, namely the ribosome. Anyway, words don’t do this man justice. You have to see him to believe him!
Supramolecular Chemistry, Medicine and Biology: Peptide Based Receptors for Selective Anion Recognition in Aqueous Solution
Kate Jolliffe from the University of Sydney discussed how peptides provide an excellent scaffold for a range of anion binding functional groups, including the amide backbone. While this talk proved to be a little too technical, being my first exposure to supramolecular chemistry, it was a good learning experience nevertheless.
ChemBiol & Enabling Technology 4: Copper and The Brain
Clara Shen is a PhD student from University of Sydney and she is examining the role of copper homeostasis on the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In particular, she is developing tools to visualise copper at a molecular level in cells. The main tools involved in her research are fluorescent methodologies for ratiometric sensing. Really enjoyed this talk especially since my own research is deeply connected to neuroscience.
Hit to Lead 1: Synthetic Cannabinoids: From “Drug Design” to “Designer Drugs”
With a title that is as playful with words as a dictionary is to a Scrabble game, one can’t help but give Shane Wilkinson from Sydney University “high” marks (pun intended). Sadly, the rest of the presentation was a little too organic for my liking and so I had my eye on other designs, namely subsequent presentations that afternoon.
Hit To Lead 2: Progress Toward Novel Therapies For Addiction and PTSD
Another drug discovery presentation, this time by Thomas Bannister from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida. Although alcohol/cocaine addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) seemed like “fun” talks to attend, the quantitative-structure activity relationship (QSAR) side of medicinal chemistry started to really take its toll on me. Perhaps it was the delivery of the material but the Hit to Lead series was turning out to be a real disappointment so far. The only plus side was learning all about things like lipophilicity (clogP), ligand efficiency and Lipinski’s Rule of 5.
Poster Session 2
Kieran Stockton with his poster Rearrangements of 2-O-Mesyl-Inososes: Mechanism, Scope and Potential Utility
Pimm’s Party on the Torrens
At the end of the day, Kieran “Get-Around-It” Stockton and I were invited to drinks at Regattas Bistro + Bar downstairs from the Convention Centre. Naturally, we were inclined to go especially since the invitation came from Kieran’s “grandfather supervisor” – the supervisor of his supervisor! But while enjoying our drinks we heard live music blaring below us. Next thing we know, Kieran and I found ourselves buying a jug of Pimm’s for $30 at an outdoor party full of young people, presumably revellers from the Test Match against India at the Adelaide Oval across the river. Now this is how you cap off a day of chemistry conferencing, with a little “alcoholysis” overlooking the Torrens. With a cow no less!