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Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

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Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 27, 2007

ACS Meetings

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Posted by Derek

The semi-annual American Chemical Society meeting is underway in Chicago this week. I'm not there, since duty calls here at Stately Pipeline Manor. (At one point a few months ago, I'd been invited to participate in a symposium that was later dropped. Little did I know that no one would still be employed at the Wonder Drug Factory by the time the meeting rolled around)! C&E News has a blog covering the meeting, and Chemistry World is doing the same.

I haven't actually been to an ACS national meeting in quite some time. They're pretty good-sized affairs, with several thousand attendees, although the size can vary significantly depending on where the meeting is held. There are, naturally, only a certain number of cities that can handle conventions of this size easily - we're not going to be seeing one in Bozeman, Montana or Fort Smith, Arkansas any time soon, although some people might prefer either of those to some of the cities where the meetings are actually held.

A glance at the past meeting calendar shows some locations that come up regularly, and others that pop up for reasons unknown. Boston (site of the next one in August), San Diego, Washington, and New Orleans are regular stops in recent years. Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Anaheim make multiple appearances, too. The venues are planned out to 2012, and those stalwarts make up most of the list, with San Antonio and Salt Lake City as outliers. Other places I can remember national meetings showing up are Las Vegas, Atlanta, Miami (not for a while, though, I think) and Dallas.

If anyone has particular nominations for best and worst places to attend one, I'd be glad (and other readers might be as well) to hear them. I'd also be interested in cities off the usual circuit where you'd like to see a meeting take place - yeah, I know, Shanghai, Pune, and Bangalore, but try to think of some others. I've heard the most gripes about Anaheim, personally, for lack of interesting sights, general character, etc., but complaints about facilities, food, and accommodations will also be welcomed. We'll get that Fort Smith booking yet.

Comments (42) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News


1. romunov on March 28, 2007 1:47 AM writes...

Funny you should mention Bozeman, Montana. Do you happen to know Ron Shimek? :)

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2. BioPhysicist on March 28, 2007 7:04 AM writes...

Of all the regular places, San Diego is my favorite city for conventions. The location of the convention center right next to the harbor and Gaslamp district is great. In case you feel bored with any of the talks you can just nip outside and enjoy the sun while looking out to the ocean.

For smaller size meetings, Banff in the Canadian Rockies is great.

The worst place I have attended a meeting was the Biophysical Society in Salt Lake City last year - the weather was freezing, you had to get this 'membership' at every bar you walked into and I dont ski !

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3. LNT on March 28, 2007 7:59 AM writes...

The best ACS meeting I've been at was in San Fransisco. I couldn't imagine a better city for the meeting. I'll agree, San Diego was a close second. Chicago is Ok in the summer, but I wouldn't want to be there in March...

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4. estronaut on March 28, 2007 8:21 AM writes...

YEAH for Bozeman!

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5. tom bartlett on March 28, 2007 8:27 AM writes...

"I dont ski !"

Skiing and rock climbing SEEM to be all Utah has going for it.

DC makes for a nice ACS meeting-- lots of free museums.

This summer meeting is New Orleans, I think. I'll pass on that, for sure.

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6. eugene on March 28, 2007 9:12 AM writes...

I would gladly substitute San Francisco for San Diego. I just like the former a lot more, even if there isn't as much sun. Too bad that Canadian cities are not allowed. I know a few that would be mine (and everyone else's) favorite.

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7. MTK on March 28, 2007 9:33 AM writes...

This may be apocryphal, but rumor has it that Vegas will not host an ACS Meeting anytime soon. Supposedly, the Vegas officials found that the economic impact (read money spent on gambling, drinking, and other vices)of the last ACS meeting there was so low, that they vowed never again.

If true, I'm not surprised. As a whole, we chemists aren't exactly the hardest partiers. In other words, we actually attend the conference.

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8. tom bartlett on March 28, 2007 10:32 AM writes...

"Too bad that Canadian cities are not allowed."

Agreed-- we should take this to the NAFTA enforcement committee. ACS at the Pan Pacifica in Vancouver would be sweet.

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9. Dave H on March 28, 2007 10:38 AM writes...

The AAPS, a supposedly American Association, went to Toronto Canada. It was better than Indianapolis.

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10. JSinger on March 28, 2007 10:54 AM writes...

Supposedly, the Vegas officials found that the economic impact (read money spent on gambling, drinking, and other vices)of the last ACS meeting there was so low, that they vowed never again.

I don't know about that, but they were upfront about the fact that they were happy to see the end of Comdex, as that enormous group of nerds took up the whole city for a week every year and spent nothing. As you say, chemists aren't exactly Pacman Jones material either.

The AAPS, a supposedly American Association, went to Toronto Canada.

ASHG had theirs in Toronto also, a few years ago.

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11. Chalkdust on March 28, 2007 11:17 AM writes...

The AAPS, a supposedly American Association, went to Toronto Canada.

The MAA/AMS have their joint winter meetings in places like Toronto and Vancouver from time to time, as well.

Actually, they had one in San Antonio not so very long ago (last year?), which was a pleasant excursion from the Frozen North.

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12. Jordan on March 28, 2007 11:21 AM writes...

The main problem with having large meetings in Canadian cities is the passport and visa issue.

(1) Passports are now required to travel by air between the USA and Canada, and since only 20-something percent of Americans have passports, laziness and bureaucracy will be obstacles to high attendance at a meeting held in Canada.

(2) Even before the passport issue arose, foreign students working in the USA would have to get visas to enter Canada if their country wasn't on the Canadian visa exemption list (which is different from the USA's).

I write all of the above as a proud Toronto resident who would love to see an ACS meeting come to my hometown -- but who doesn't think it'll happen. Maybe I'm wrong.

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13. Petros on March 28, 2007 11:29 AM writes...

I used to do the rounds of the big conferences too although, despite being a chemist, have never attended an ACS meeting.

Atlanta seemed to offer the biggest convention centre around, while Anaheim rated as the dreariest place I ever went to. New Orleans was probably the most interesting venue but I guess is currently unavailable.

The more sepcialist meetings took in places like Kansas and Nashville and a friend found the former the worst venue he had visited.

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14. ZAL on March 28, 2007 11:39 AM writes...

"As a whole, we chemists aren't exactly the hardest partiers. In other words, we actually attend the conference."

Well, I know some chemists who are also hard partiers...but you're right, when they are in some place for a conference, chemists actually attend it. Perhaps taht's due to the fact that you pay an awful amount of money (not always fully rembursed) for your badge!
If you want an european hint, Geneva in the sumer is gorgeous (OMCOS-13, 2005)

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15. process-chemist on March 28, 2007 11:49 AM writes...

I've been to many ACS meetings, San Diego and Boston get my vote for best venues. DC has museums but it's a terrible convention venue-no night life, the city is a ghost town after 5:00pm.

I went to an NOS meeting in Bozeman, MT. I would jump at the chance to return, just for the mountain-biking.

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16. Don B. on March 28, 2007 12:08 PM writes...


I like San Diego.

New Orleans is the only place in the USA that I have seen a dirty McDonalds! Never mind the physical danger.

I attended the last Nat'l meeting in Vegas.

At the start you had to wander through a maze of slot machines (from the hilton to the Convention Center). In a day or two, they gave up & moved the slots out of the way of chemist traffic.

I truly believe that the ACS was told to take our business elsewhere.

Don B.

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17. Ron on March 28, 2007 1:09 PM writes...

I would love to see an ACS meeting in Seattle, Washington...

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18. Petros on March 28, 2007 1:36 PM writes...

"As a whole, we chemists aren't exactly the hardest partiers. In other words, we actually attend the conference."

Really! I wenet to a University where all science students had to take an extra term in the summer before the start of their final year. One week coincided with the local beer festival/

Chemistyr students went for their morning lecture and practicals then decamped en masse at lunctime to the beer festiavl. We see few physics or biology studests!, somewhet more medical students.

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19. Petros on March 28, 2007 1:37 PM writes...

"As a whole, we chemists aren't exactly the hardest partiers. In other words, we actually attend the conference."

Really! I went to a University where all science students had to take an extra term in the summer before the start of their final year. One week coincided with the local beer festival/

Chemistry students went for their morning lecture and practicals then decamped en mass at lunchtime to the beer festival. We see few physics or biology students!, somewhat more medical students.

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20. Chrispy on March 28, 2007 2:47 PM writes...

I seem to recall that the Natural Products Gordon Conference was called off for a few years because the chemists got so out of control...

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21. eugene on March 28, 2007 3:47 PM writes...

Process-chemist, DC has great nightlife. Just not around the convention center area. Or the government/museums area. I pity the poor, poor souls who tried to find anything open there after the poster session...

There are three areas in DC for nightlife, and unfortunately the nearest one to the convention center is a 20 minute walk away. The best one is about 35 minutes away. It's actually sort of logical since you don't want a bunch of drunks stumbling around the government area. You could always take the Metro though.

I agree with #17 that Seattle would be a great idea. And I suppose that if there was a Canadian conference, it would probably be in Toronto, but I was thinking more around the lines of Montreal in La belle Provence. Now there is a place with no shortage of nightlife right next to the convention center...

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22. MTK on March 28, 2007 4:31 PM writes...

Chrispy and Petros ,

You are correct about the Natural Products Gordon conference and that chemists may party more than physicists, but

a) what a small New England college founded by Puritans considers o.c. probably doesn't even register with anyone in Vegas

b) being known as the most gonzo of the physical sciences doesn't exactly put you on the road with Guns 'N' Roses

and c) while many of us do like our beer, we are also pretty cheap. You can take the chemist out of grad school, but you can't take the grad school out of the chemist.

I just like the story because if I were Vegas officials and had a choice between booking valuable convention space with the ACS meeting or a group of sales folks, I know which one I'd pick.

I may change my handle to self-loathing chemist.

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23. Bootsy on March 28, 2007 5:58 PM writes...

I've only been to three ACS meetings, Las Vegas, Dallas, and DC. Since Vegas is verboten, I'd actually put in a dark horse vote for Dallas. The convention center was managable, and Deep Elum was a blast for a few nights. Of course, it required cabs everywhere, but it was fun.

DC in August was a nightmare.

Of all reasonable US locations for an ACS, SF is tops on my list. If a conference is in SF, I am at least twice as likely to go.

What did people think of NY a few years back as a site?

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24. eugene on March 28, 2007 6:21 PM writes...

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that if the convention is held in DC in August or September, you won't be doing any walking to the nightlife. Is it just me, or is that place hotter than Miami in the summer? Maybe it just seems that way.

In fact, I'd vote against any hot, sunny, humid states for the Fall meeting. That's why Miami is not on my list unless the meetings get moved to December-January.

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25. Jose on March 28, 2007 6:36 PM writes...

I've heard several rumors from several sources that the reason the summer ones are in hot places and the winter ones in cold climates is simple economics- Atlanta is cheap when it is scorching hot. Anyone have real info?

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26. RKN on March 28, 2007 7:46 PM writes...

If anyone has particular nominations for best and worst places to attend one, I'd be glad (and other readers might be as well) to hear them.

The Big Easy was always my favorite.

I was in Chicago late last month for PittCon. Decent convention center 'n all, but Chicago itself in late February did not inspire. The ASMS meeting this year is being held in Indiana. Yahoo.

Just before I left Anchorage in 2005 they began construction on a new convention center there. Local bureaubots were evidently thinking, "Build it and they will come." If the convention is in June, and they like to fish, I'm sure they will, otherwise, doubt it.

I'm off to AACR in LA next month, and my wife has been invited to a conference in June. Guess where? Maui! Now that's what I'm talking about. I'll be taggin' along for that one.

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27. Chemgeek on March 28, 2007 9:58 PM writes...

Bozeman would be great. But, when I was there, we hosted the NOS in the middle of June.... and got 14 inches of snow.

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28. Josh on March 28, 2007 10:38 PM writes...

I was looking for an asian cancer conference and came across this one via google: The 19th Asia Pacific Cancer Conference, November 15-17, 2007, Tehran, Iran. Makes Orlando seem not that bad.

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29. davidar on March 29, 2007 3:25 AM writes...

The worst place I have been for a conference was the American Crystallographic Association in Cincinatti/Covington.

I asked at my hotel where the shopping/restaurant/drinking district was and was informed that there waas a mall out on the interstate somewhere.

Nice aquarium though

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30. PharmaChemist on March 29, 2007 7:58 AM writes...

I would have to agree that Anaheim is the worst for holding an ACS National for the reasons cited above. DC in the fall is rough. Sure, you have the museums, monuments, etc. but there is nothing around the convention center. And a walk through downtown DC will make you want to take advantage of your second amendment rights. San Diego is wonderful and San Antonio is surprisingly good. The River Walk is a super after-hours venue and the Alamo is close by.

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31. The Strider on March 29, 2007 9:16 AM writes...

Seattle, NY, SF are great. LA is not so practical.

I heard an NPR item about the recovery of the New Orleans convention center so that could also be nice.

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32. Jim Gwyn on March 29, 2007 9:53 AM writes...

"I'd also be interested in cities off the usual circuit where you'd like to see a meeting take place..."

Ok, how about High Point, NC?

This week we're hosting the Spring edition of the International Home Furnishings Show. This year there are about 80,000 (Yes, 80k) attendees. It is the biggest trade show in the US. I think that the ACS would pretty much rattle around in that kind of space.

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33. ACS ATTENDEE on March 29, 2007 10:31 AM writes...

I am attending the Chicago conf..and to be frank..the wather was gr8 for Chicao in MArch...the initial 2 days were in the upper 70's...

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34. Benjamin on March 29, 2007 10:33 AM writes...

SF is the best location followed by San Diego and Washington, D.C. Worst - Orlando. Hidden Gems - Seattle, Portland, and New York. IS it me or are the Fall meeting sites in better locations?

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35. process-chemist on March 29, 2007 12:05 PM writes...


NOS, Bozeman, June, 14 inches of snow -- I was at the same meeting. It was 70 the day before, great biking. I even went out the day the storm started, not too far afield though (I try to avoid hypothermia -- I did get soaked though.) I also went rafting the day after the storm, good rapids, but oooh sooo cooold.

I had forgotten about the oppressive heat of DC in August, and that is a long and expensive cab ride from Dulles.

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36. MTK on March 29, 2007 12:28 PM writes...

Holy cow, Jim.

80K! Was that at one time or over the course of the whole show? I guess I find it hard to believe that High Point could support a show like the ACS. Not due to convention floor space, but due to room availability. A lot of cities are limited by the number of hotel rooms that are available. For something like the ACS you're probably going to need at least 5000 rooms.

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37. KHS on March 30, 2007 1:08 PM writes...

My top sites are Boston, San Francisco, and New Orleans. New Orleans is on the Schedule for Spring 08, so obviously they must be back in business.

San Francisco is my favorite city, but Boston is better for the conference. The conv. center is well located with bars and restaurants nearby and a great transit system.

Annaheim is terrible. Nowhere to eat, except overpriced hotel or Disney food, within walking distance. I've never been, but Orlando never seemed attractive.

I would like to see a meeting in Seattle or Portland. The Atlanta meeting last fall was also nice, so I hope it becomes a more regular stop, since I'm nearby.

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38. bitter pill on March 30, 2007 6:32 PM writes...

Dallas was the worst I've been to. No place to eat around the convention center for blocks in any direction. Everything was very fragmented. New Orleans was fun before the hurricane.
Can anyone understand the ACS policy of putting poster session in a quarter of the space they should be in? They also like to put them away from the main convention center (see this year's Chicago meeting).

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39. CR on April 2, 2007 8:59 AM writes...


The ACS had to put the poster sessions in a place away from the main convention center this past week (Chicago) because the convention center is SO far out of the way. You were forced to take the shuttle to and from. The hotels that the attendees were staying at were downtown, and the convention center is far south--south of Soldier Field. There was no way to walk--I tried in Sunday AM--beautiful day; but it took me over 1 hour. If you were to have the poster session at the convention center the attendance would have been terrible. I could at least walk to the poster session from my hotel--right across the Chicago river.

This was the first ACS meeting I've been to where the main poster session (ORGN, MEDI) was not at the convention center. DC and San Fran were each held at the convention center.

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40. CR on April 2, 2007 9:05 AM writes...

Sorry, my last comment was to "bitter pill", not "KHS"--regarding the poster session.

However, taking the shuttle after the afternoon session back to the hotel I was sitting behind some of the "Organizers"--people on the convention committee and they were talking about how this was the last year they'd be in Chicago because of the convention center location. They also were lamenting their decision to go to St. Louis. As one of them pointed out--'most people attend the conference as a tourist spot--who wants to go to St. Louis?' Having lived there I second that. They were also debating Boston because their convention center location isn't right downtown either--and that they'd have to rely on shuttle buses much more than other locations.

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41. bitter pill on April 2, 2007 6:27 PM writes...

CR- For evening poster sessions having them away from the convention center makes sense. The place is an island with nothing near by. It's for posters that are out during the day (along with talks) that is impractical. If you have half an hour to kill, you can't cruise the posters very well.

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42. Jim Gwyn on April 3, 2007 10:46 AM writes...

MTK wrote: "Holy cow, Jim...80K! Was that at one time or over the course of the whole show?"

At one time, ~I think~. I could get some better numbers if it mattered.

According to the Market Authority (, there were 100,128 registered to attend this year. This event is only open to the trade. You have to provide bona fides in advance to even register.

I worked in a Hotel in college and I can tell you all the available rooms in a fifty-mile radius were usually filled during market. The only time I can remember a real crunch was when the Market and Greensboros' PGA golf tourniment were scheduled simultaneously.

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