The 102nd Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Quebec City offered some 2500 participants from government, industry, and academia a wide array of opportunities to check up on some of the latest research, broaden their connections across a wide range of fields, and gain some new perspectives on how to approach their careers.
Daily plenary presentations by keynote speakers ran a full gamut from the insights of deeply personal reminiscence to the implications of cutting edge technologies. The former included Montreal Medal recipient Cathleen Crudden reflecting on how her mother’s advice shaped the course of her professional life and Raychelle Burks from St. Edwards University in Texas explaining the challenges that confront a black woman in the American scientific community. Meanwhile, Stanford University investigator Zhenan Bao shared impressive progress that is being made to develop flexible electronic materials that could be attached to our own skin.
Students from across the country showcased their work in hundreds of posters that were on display and competing for various prizes. Students also packed one of the conference rooms for a series of presentations about careers in chemistry, which considered everything from how to engage in a job search to how to think beyond the familiar framework of a research role to employment in organizations that are neither industrial nor academic. There was a similar amount of attention dedicated to the rising profile of equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, which included discussions of the ongoing efforts to achieve gender parity, overcome physical disabilities, and bridging the cultural gaps that can open up for individuals who come to Canada from other parts of the world.
A full day of sessions covered recent developments in Canada’s chemical industry, which included details about the rich potential unleashed by the recent legalization of cannabis, which has opened up an entire new research and development frontier. Representatives from a variety of sectors also explained how new attitudes toward sustainability were altering their business practices in areas from safety to reducing the carbon footprint of pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The conference also honoured some of Canada’s most outstanding chemical talent at the CIC and CSC Presidents’ Awards Ceremony and Dinner Reception. In addition to CIC’s own honours, including the Montreal Medal, the CIC Medal, and the CIC Award for Chemistry Education, three new Fellows were added to the roster and there were specifically directed honours given through various CIC and CSC divisions in conjunction with external partners.