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UMass Chemistry Hosts the 2010 Reaction Mechanisms Conference

RMC Group Photo

The Reaction Mechanisms Conference returned to UMass Amherst during 23-26 June 2010, thirty years after Profs. C. Peter Lilly and Bernie Miller were local organizers for the 1980 version of that meeting. There were over 160 registered attendees with 69 poster abstracts in the meeting program, as well as 25 invited talks. The attendance at all session was consistently very strong, from the opening session on the evening of Wednesday 23 June, right through the closing session on Saturday evening that honored the scientific contributions and career of Yale Professor Emeritus Jerry Berson. The closing session featured world leaders speaking cutting edge research in the areas of organometallo-catalytic and bio-organic mechanisms, and was chaired by the incoming head of the NSF Chemistry Division, Prof. Matt Platz of the Ohio State University. Some of the comments post-meeting include:

  • “The science and the (meeting) execution were flawless”
  • “So many of the participants I talked with were unstinting with their praise of the local arrangements”
  • “The organization was definitely superior to any other conference (in which I ever participated”
  • “The last evening was the best set of talks I have ever attended”
  • “I still have that conference buzz even 48 hours later”

There was much similarly glowing verbal praise during the meeting. The Integrated Sciences Building was a major star of the meeting with all conference attendees, with the ISB main lecture theatre typically being half to two-thirds full with attendees and UMass local “drop-in” faculty and students. The lecture room’s high tech environment allowed easy transitions from one speaker to another, with excellent lecture quality. All of the afternoon and evening poster sessions were held along the corridors and foyer of the building. Poster sessions, business was very brisk, with some competition from the Ghana-USA World Cup game on Saturday afternoon: poster participants solved that by running wireless computer connections at their poster stations! Also, three impromptu “ad hoc” sessions were organized on site, including one for the gratifying number of undergraduate researchers at the meeting; the latter session filled one of the ISB Resource Center rooms for over an hour.

This RMC was notable for featuring direct and very strong sponsorship from the American Chemical Society, especially the Division of Organic Chemistry, and including the local Connecticut Valley Section. Despite the challenging economic times, there was a wide and strong financial sponsorship from a number of companies, including Amgen, Procter & Gamble, Pharmaron, Bayer MaterialScience, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Bruker Biospin EPR Division, and DuPont. The University Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and the College of Natural Sciences, also sponsored support of the meeting. Paul Lahti also noted, “Bob Sheridan of University of Nevada Reno assembled an outstanding program, and our University Conference Services made that program work spectacularly well with the great ISB facilities. This one of the biggest chemistry meetings on this campus in many years – hopefully a precursor for more to come.”

For pictures and other archived information, see the RMC 2010 website at

(July 2010)