Chemical Frontiers

Gillian Ferko in the lab

"I was able to experience facets of research that I didn't even know were possible," says Gillian Ferko '15, of the recent American Chemical Society meeting she attended in Denver. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Gillian Ferko ’15 earns travel award to attend national American Chemical Society meeting

by Tony Moore

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has more than 150,000 members, making it the world’s largest scientific society. And joining 12,000 of those members in Denver recently for the group’s spring meeting was Gillian Ferko ’15, who earned a travel award from the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry.

“[Assistant] Professor [of Chemistry Sarah] St. Angelo really encouraged me to apply,” said Ferko, a chemistry and biochemistry & molecular biology double major. “I knew that it was a competitive award, so I sent all my credentials and details without really expecting much.” The next thing she knew, she was named one of the recipients and was touching down in Denver—at a conference that represented everything she’s been working toward academically.

“The atmosphere at first was very intimidating, because it was a huge conference,” Ferko says, “but once I figured out how to navigate all the sessions, it was an eye-opening experience.”

The theme of this year’s meeting was "Chemistry of Natural Resources," and there were more than 1,000 sessions from which to choose. Ferko found that there was something to be absorbed everywhere she turned, and she also delivered two presentations herself: a poster presentation and an oral presentation during a session titled “Undergraduate Research at Frontiers of Inorganic Chemistry.”

“The oral presentation was intense, but the people in the audience were very encouraging and complimentary after I had presented,” she said. “It also made me more passionate about what I was doing, and I’m very excited to continue expanding on the research that I'm doing at Dickinson.” 

After she graduates, Ferko will work in the medical device/pharmaceutical industry and then apply to graduate school, where she’ll purse further endeavors in bioinorganic chemistry.

“At the meeting, I learned that the opportunities are endless in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry,” said Ferko, who, along with her degree, will take with her after graduation the Red Devil record in the discus, which she set for the second time in mid-April. “I’m already passionate about chemistry, but going to the conference made me really excited about what’s to come for my future and taught me to never give up on my goals as a chemist.”

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Published April 28, 2015