The Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) held its annual conference and exhibition in Vancouver, British Columbia, during Jun. 4-8. Under the theme Chemistry at the Edge, CSC 2023 provided a unique platform for more than 2,500 chemists, researchers, educators and industry leaders to exchange knowledge, present cutting edge research and explore the transformative power of chemistry. 

One of the highlights of the conference was the plenary sessions featuring high profile researchers from leading institutions who shared their experiences, insights, and visions for the future of the chemical sciences. Stanford University’s Carolyn Bertozzi was the first keynote speaker and during her plenary session, which was part of CSC 2023’s opening ceremony on Jun. 4, she presented an overview of the origins of the field of bioorthogonal chemistry and the pioneering work that led her to become one of the 2022 Chemistry Nobel Prize laureates. On Jun. 5 Teri W. Odom, Northwestern University, focused on her work modeling cancer cell systems that can be used to visualize how gold nanoconstructs target cells, rotate, and translate on the plasma membrane and are endocytosed and trafficked intracellularly. The 2023 Montreal Medal plenary lecture by University of Western Ontario’s Tsun-Kong Sham on Jun. 6 explored synchrotron technology and its applications, especially in the Canadian context, and how the science community can benefit from this powerful tool for research. On Jun. 7 the 2023 CIC Medal winner Janusz Pawliszyn from University of Waterloo presented “Towards a Panacea in Chemical Sensing” explained flexible solid-phase microextraction (SPME) technologies, their application in various disciplines and examples of different SPME designs that address important global challenges.

“The plenary lectures and keynote speakers at this year’s CSC were nothing short of extraordinary,” says the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC)’s Executive Director Josephine Tsang. “CSC 2023 attendees will remember these plenary sessions for a long time; they were mesmerizing and inspiring in equal measures,” she adds. 

The conference underscored the importance of sustainability, featuring presentations and symposia focused on the development of environmentally friendly solutions. Experts shared insights on renewable energies, green materials and eco-friendly processes, highlighting the role of chemistry in tackling global challenges such as pollution, climate change and resource depletion. 

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) was another important theme during CSC 2023. The symposium “Inclusivity and Allyship in Chemistry” explored many EDI aspects including the role of mentors and allies in retention of members of underrepresented groups, the challenges that the neurodivergent community faces in higher education and how to integrate EDI into bachelor’s degrees in chemistry. 

Other topics included some of the most exciting and innovative research being done in chemistry today, including new advances in drug discovery, nanotechnology, materials science and energy research.

The conference also included a number of workshops, poster sessions and presentations providing participants the opportunity to present their work, learn about new technologies or explore professional development opportunities. In addition to the technical program, there were also networking opportunities, allowing participants to meet with colleagues and collaborators from across the country, and social events, including a welcome reception and an awards ceremony. 

For CIC Board of Directors Chair, Deborah Nicoll-Griffith, and CSC President, Jennifer Love, the awards were a highlight. “We were proud to recognize and celebrate the incredible talent that we have in the chemical sciences in Canada during the awards ceremony as well as during the reception with the spectacular view of the North Vancouver mountains and harbour.

“We’d also like to extend our thanks to the sponsors, to the Director of Awards Christina Bottaro, and to the CIC National Team for their hard work to make this event a success.

“Finally, we’d also like to acknowledge the excellent nominees who were not selected, but are also worthy contenders, and the time and effort from all of the nominees, nominators, and letter writers.”

During the conference, CIC, CSC and several of the subject divisions held their annual general meetings. The exhibition floor was busy and vibrant – all the booths were sold out – with many informative, innovative and interactive exhibits on display.  

CSC 2023 served as a showcase of the important contributions that chemical scientists are making to the field of chemistry and beyond. It brought together scientists, educators, industry professionals and aspiring chemists fostering a spirit of innovation, and a sense of community and camaraderie on which to build lasting connections. 

Members can access photos from the awards ceremony during CSC 2023 here.