A Celebration of Success
01 October 2011
In 2010, the RSC launched ISACS - the International Symposia on Advancing the Chemical Sciences. The three meetings, ISACS1, ISACS2 and ISACS3, attracted some of the world's foremost chemical scientists as speakers. This year, the RSC built on the success of this, with ISACS4, ISACS5 and ISACS6. Following the format of last year, they were again held in three different continents, over 12 days in total.
The overall aim of the series is to provide cutting edge scientific talks across broad topic areas. Researchers over a number of interrelated disciplines and different communities are brought together to discuss exciting developments and challenges in their own research domain.
The RSC invited almost sixty plenary speakers who are recognised leaders in their field.
Using feedback from delegates in 2010, the format of the conferences evolved this year to include oral abstracts as well as poster presentations. This new addition was well-received and stimulated a significant amount of submissions.
James Milne, Publishing Director of the RSC said: "We started ISACS last year, to support the launch of our Chemical Science journal. Since then, ISACS has grown from strength to strength.
"We've had some really great speakers this year and have been constantly impressed by the quality of poster presentations."
The 2011 series opened with Challenges in Renewable Energy (ISACS4) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA, from 5-8 July. Delegates were impressed by the collection of exceptional speakers who covered topics ranging from artificial photosynthesis and photovoltaics to hydrogen storage and battery science. James K McCusker, Professor of Chemistry and Associate Chair for Research at Michigan State University, said: "There was unanimous agreement [amongst attendees] that this was one of the best conferences any of us have ever attended in the field. It was a spectacular success."
ISACS4 featured nearly 30 lectures across four days and was preceded by a half-day workshop entitled 'Addressing Challenges in Solar Energy Utilisation Towards Water Splitting', sponsored by RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science. Five speakers, selected from the ISACS4 poster abstracts, gave presentations which stimulated lively debate looking at the various research aspects of water splitting.
ISACS4 attracted many enthusiastic young scientists. "I had never been to an ISACS conference before and thought it was quite excellent" explained Karen Mulfort, of Northwestern University, USA. "The Tuesday workshop was particularly unique, and a fantastic opportunity for me to get some feedback on my research". The success of this workshop means that the RSC will be rolling the concept out across future conferences in the ISACS series.
ISACS in the UK
This year the RSC was delighted to host one of the events in the UK. ISACS5: Challenges in Chemical Biology was held at the University of Manchester from 26 to 29 July. The conference was hosted by RSC President
David Phillips, who awarded Honorary Fellowships to two Nobel Prize Winners, Thomas Steitz and Venki Ramakrishnan. Delegates from across the globe travelled to the conference, which explored topics at the forefront of chemical biology. One of the speakers, Richard Hartley, from the University of Glasgow, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, which covered the whole field of chemical biology from the origins of life to modern aging, elucidating, building on and providing alternatives to nature's molecular machinery and organisational structure."
The conference was chaired by the Committee Chairman of the RSC Chemical Biology Interface Division, Hagan Bayley, who commented: "I was delighted with ISACS5. The science was extraordinary, and spotlighted a huge future for the chemistrybiology interface. The size of the meeting was just right, enabling younger scientists to mingle with international investigators who lead their fields."
The organisers at the RSC were also pleased to see ISACS4 and ISACS6 attract a large number of delegates and speakers from the UK. James Barber (Imperial College, London), Peter Bruce (University of St Andrews) and Fraser Armstrong (University of Oxford) were amongst the plenary speakers at ISACS4. David Leigh (University of Edinburgh), Philip Gale (University of Southampton) and Harry Anderson (University of Oxford) were plenary speakers at ISACS6.
The last ISACS conference of the year also proved to be the most popular. Over 200 delegates came to ISACS6: Challenges in Organic Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry, which was held from 2-5 September at Peking University.
Nathan Gianneschi, of the University of California said: "The conference really brought together not just top researchers in the field but also people willing to define many of the challenges facing the discipline in general. The talks also spanned an incredible array of topics within this most multidisciplinary field of chemistry, which is very important."
ISACS has provided the opportunity for some interesting supporting activities. As well as the workshop on water splitting at ISACS4, the RSC also held the first Chemical Science symposium following ISACS6. Featuring six of the main ISACS6 speakers, this was held in Nanjing, China.
Plans are well underway for next year's ISACS events, and we can reveal that ISACS 7-9 will include Challenges in Organic Chemistry, in Edinburgh, UK, and Challenges in Nanoscience, to be held in China.