The Chemistry Students’ Association at the University of Alberta hosted the 35th Western Canadian Undergraduate Chemistry Conference (WCUCC 2023), in Edmonton, Alberta, from May 2-5, 2023.

It was a homecoming of sorts – WCUCC was first established at the University of Alberta in 1987 and is one of three conferences in Canada, along with the Southern Ontario Undergraduate Chemistry Conference (SOUCC) and ChemCon, that targets undergraduate students conducting research in chemistry-related areas. Out of these three conferences, WCUCC is the only fully student-led conference.

Historically, WCUCC has been a smaller-scale conference attended by 30 to 50 participants, but this year was different, with nearly 130 participants from more than 20 institutions across Western Canada. A total of 75 presenters gave 60 poster presentations and over 30 oral presentations.

The conference opened with remarks from Chester Lau, the co-chair of WCUCC 2023 organizing committee and co-president of the Chemistry Students’ Association, Dr. Frederick West, the acting dean of the Faculty of Science, and Dr. Alex Brown, the department chair of chemistry. Dr. Alex Brown (University of Alberta) then gave the opening plenary talk, followed by select student oral presentations. In the evening, participants attended a mixer, and the University of Alberta Observatory opened for night viewing.

On Day 2, students attended plenary talks by Dr. Ran Zhao (University of Alberta) and Dr. Kingsley Donkor (Thompson Rivers University). Attendees were amazed at the forensic chemistry work done by Dr. Robin Abel (MBC Group), who wrapped up the afternoon with an invited talk. In the evening, conference attendees took part in Gala Night, mingled with fellow attendees and listened to outstanding inspirational talks from Dr. Jonathan (Jon) Veinot and Dr. Melis Gedik (University of Alberta).

On Day 3, students attended plenary talks by Dr. Lara Mahal (University of Alberta) and Dr. Helen Tran (University of Toronto). In between, 60 students presented in the day’s poster sessions.

On Day 4, students attended a career panel, where six individuals working in either in academia or industry (Dr. Robin Abel, Ms. Caoimhe Connaughton, Dr. Teague McGinitie, Dr. Thuy Nguyen, Dr. Jon Veinot, Dr. Greg Wentworth) answered questions about their career paths. Afterwards, the Chemistry Students’ Association hosted a barbeque lunch for conference attendees. To wrap up the conference, Dr. Phil Baran (Scripps Research Institute) gave a virtual closing plenary talk, followed by an awards ceremony and closing remarks.

The WCUCC 2023 organizing committee would like to wish all attendees the best in their future endeavours and congratulate the following fifteen undergraduate award winners:

Analytical Poster Award – Michael Zarychta (University of Manitoba), Supervisor – Dr. Sabine Kuss

Analytical Oral Award – Roy Daou (University of Manitoba), Supervisor – Dr. Sabine Kuss

Chemical Biology Poster Award – Joseph Reyes (University of Alberta), Supervisor – Dr. Lara Mahal

Ray-Chee (Peter) Jian (Simon Fraser University), Supervisor – Dr. Dustin King

Chemical Biology Oral Award – Ryan Qiu (University of Alberta), Supervisor – Dr. Ratmir Derda

Chemical/Materials Engineering Oral and Poster Award – Maria Hangad (University of Victoria), Supervisor – Dr. Katherine Elvira

Computational/Theoretical Chemistry Poster Award – Zhehan Jia (Thompson Rivers University), Supervisor – Dr. Nelaine Mora-Diez

Computational/Theoretical Chemistry Oral Award – Clayton Smith (University of Victoria), Supervisor – Dr. Irina Paci

Environmental Chemistry Oral and Poster Award – Dylan Long (University of Alberta), Supervisor – Dr. Ran Zhao

Inorganic Chemistry Poster Award – Takeo Iwase (University of British Columbia), Supervisor – Dr. Parisa Mehrkhodavandi

Inorganic Chemistry Oral Award – Hannah Dokken (University of Alberta), Supervisor – Dr. Eric Rivard

Materials Chemistry Poster Award – Chantell Fernandes (University of Alberta), Supervisor – Dr. Mike Serpe

Organic Chemistry Oral and Poster Award – Jonathan Nakhleh (University of Saskatchewan), Supervisor – Dr. Dave Palmer

Organic Chemistry Poster Award – Doug Miller (University of Victoria), Supervisor – Dr. David Leitch

Physical Chemistry Oral Award – Juliette Whiteside (University of Alberta), Supervisor – Dr. Yunjie Xu