Left Photo: Chemical Institute of Canada Chair David Fung presents the Montréal Medal to SFU’s B. Mario Pinto, FCIC, at the 97th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Vancouver. Photo credit: Krista Leroux​
Right Photo: Canadian Society for Chemistry President Youla Tsantrizos presents Alfred B.P. Lever of York University with the E. W. R. Steacie Award for distinguished contributions to chemistry. Photo credit: Krista Leroux

Vancouver delivered mountain ranges, sunshine and ocean breezes as the picturesque complement to the 97th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, held June 1-5 in the West Coast city. The conference drew 2,625 delegates — including 759 from outside Canada — a number superseded only once before at Montreal in 2011. 

Conference Chair Zuo-Guang Ye of Simon Fraser University (SFU) told delegates that this year’s theme, “Chemistry from Sea to Sky,” referred not only to Vancouver’s geography but also the breadth of science presented, from fundamentals to blue-sky innovation. Hosted by SFU, the conference was global in scope, drawing chemical scientists from 41 countries who submitted 2,391 abstracts for presentation to conference delegates. For the first time ever, symposia showcased collaborative research initiatives between researchers in Canada and China, South Korea, the United States, France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland. As well, nearly 600 posters and 714 oral discussions were presented.

Opening remarks were made by Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) President Lorenzo Ferrari and SFU President and Vice-Chancellor Andrew Petter. Plenary speakers included Shankar Balasubramanian of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who described three laboratory projects that have employed chemistry to provide insight into nucleic acids and the human genome. Balasubramanian is a founder of Solexa sequencing, a firm built on his co-discovery of a low-cost method for sequencing DNA. 

This year’s Montréal Medal Lecture was given by B. Mario Pinto. The SFU chemistry professor is an internationally renowned pioneer in chemical biology who is known for his innovative research into Type 2 diabetes. Plenary speaker Klaus Müllen of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany discussed the new wonder material graphene in his talk, “Is the Future Black? The Chemistry of Carbon Materials.” Graphene, said Müllen, has virtually limitless future applications, from lithium-ion batteries to electronics and photovoltaics. 

The Chemical Institute of Canada’s CIC Medal Lecture was given by Douglas Stephan, FCIC, of the University of Toronto, who is regarded as the “face of Canadian inorganic chemistry around the globe.” Stephan’s presentation was titled “From Frustrated Lewis Pairs to Electrophilic Phosphonium Cations: Metal-free Approaches to Hydrogenation Catalysis.”