Tuesday, November 10, 2020

ACS National Meeting in Orlando, Florida – Spring 2019

 Brittany Klootwyk

              Attending the ACS National Meeting was an incredible opportunity that I am glad I got to experience with the rest of the chemistry department before graduating this semester. I have been doing organic chemistry research in Dr. Boyce’s lab for two years with a focus on developing new reactions using molecules called cyclopropenones. While it may have been nerve wracking to think about presenting a poster of your own research at a conference with over 10,000 chemistry professionals in attendance, the actual presentation was anything but that. Professors and students would come to your poster to hear about your research and on occasion give you suggestions about different catalysts or conditions to try.

The best part was attending the talks given by different chemists in academia and in industry throughout the entirety of the conference. It is incredibly inspiring to attend talks of professors whose papers you may have read during your classes and research. We got to hear from Dr. Francis H. Arnold who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year and from Dr. K. Barry Sharpless who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001. Dr. Sharpless was kind enough to take a moment from signing autographs to take an amazing group photo with some of us in the chemistry department that I will treasure forever. I also got to meet some of my inspirations in chemistry like Dr. Phil Baran, Dr. Vy Dong, and Dr. David MacMillan. I gave my seminar presentation on some of the incredible photochemistry Dr. MacMillan’s lab works on so it was a little unreal to get to hear directly from him about his research and go up to chat with him after his talk! One thing that surprised me the most about the entire experience was that each chemist was extremely approachable. They were all willing to chat with the undergraduates after their talks and continue to inspire us. I am looking forward to the next National Meeting where I can hear from and meet some of the brilliant chemists I missed during this conference!

By- Brittany Klootwyk








Friday, November 6, 2020

Conference in Toronto

 Thanks to the funding provided by the Undergraduate Scholarship Office, I was able to attend a conference hosted in Toronto. Presenting in front of so many scholars and even being able to attend others’ presentations were truly an amazing experience. The first day of the conference, we had the chance to attend a lecture by S. Craig Watkins from the University of Texas at Austin who spoke about “How black youth are transforming the digital world”. He talked about the use of social media platforms such as twitter to create a community for young black people. I also enjoyed “Avatar and Virtual Reality” by XIAOWEI HUANG from the University of Macau, she talked about the lack of responsibility that people when it comes to avatar-based online games. She told us of how the men and women there acted in very offensive ways just because they knew that they would be able to keep their anonymity.

While in Canada, I was also able to experience the culture there. I was excited to find that so many beautiful and old architectures were still being used in the city. While they had skyscrapers, they also had very rustic and beautiful looking buildings in the midst of it all. Ontario is a beautiful city, so much so that I did not mind the fact that I had to walk everywhere. On our spare time we were able to experience local life in downtown Ontario and even witnessed a protest that was happening about animals being used for fur by a company.


Overall, my experience with Canada was positive. From the conference to walking around the city and being able to eat in different restaurants by different ethnic groups. On my last day, I was able to attend a free concert to celebrate the commencement of Canada day and it was wonderful to attend. I have done some of the most walking while I was there but it allowed me to observe the natives and even be a part of them. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019 Annual Biomedical Engineering Society Conference

By: Nicole Doles

The 2019 Annual Biomedical Engineering Society Conference held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the largest it has been in its history. The conference was kick-started with a Welcome Reception gathering nearly a thousand individuals all interested in the same life changing field of biomedical engineering. Three lengthy days of graduate schools, companies, workshops, posters, and oral presentations followed.
Tyson Ogilvie (left) and myself (right) at the BMES Conference

Most of the FGCU Students and professors that attended the conference at the Dessert BASH
I was surprised to find a much larger ratio of graduate schools from around The United States and Canada attending than those from industry. I spent two days going booth to booth, asking each graduate school about their master’s programs in tissue engineering. Because I still have a year left of my undergraduate degree, I was eager to learn about the summer research internships that many schools offer. These research opportunities allow undergraduate students to work with graduate students on specific research projects to give insight on what pursuing a higher degree would be like. These days ended with mixers held by each university. The mixers allowed students to talk to professors and graduate students from that university on a more personal level without the noise and distraction of a thousand other people filing through the convention center.

My research partner, Brandon Roche (left) and myself (right) at our poster presentation
Between talking to professional in the field of biomedical engineering, I attended different oral research presentations on topics ranging from injury mechanics to bioprinting. As an undergraduate unsure about what exact path I want to take down the road of bioengineering, it was helpful to see glimpses into each of the different topics bioengineering has to offer. This also helped prepare me for my own research presentation. Although I did not have to give an oral speech, my partner and I were required to stand with our poster for an hour to answer questions people may have about our research. I am learning more and more that the ability to communicate ideas and concepts may be the most important aspect of being an engineer. Without communication, the scientific community cannot advance.

I learned that a large aspect of conference is gaining new insight for research. Between presentations, we all explored the city of Philadelphia (the bitter cold only stopped us a little bit). Being in the center of Philadelphia allowed us to hit most of the famous monuments.

View of Love Park with the Philadelphia City Hall in the background

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Evolutionary Ecology of the Silver Palm (Coccothrinax argentata) in San Salvador, Bahamas.

By Jennifer Meader

I had the opportunity this spring to join a small team with Dr. Goebel and Dr. Cross to assist in their long-term research project studying the growth and recovery of Coccothrinax argentata (silver thatch palm) for two weeks in San Salvador, Bahamas. It was a unique chance to experience real rough-and-tumble ecological field work abroad, and to start looking at how the smaller questions we were exploring fit into a bigger ecological picture.
I was given an undergraduate scholarly award to assist in the expenses of staying at Gerace Research Center during the trip. Gerace is a repurposed military base, occupied by students and faculty from other schools around the U.S. who stay for research and courses that their school offers to teach abroad. I enjoyed the unexpected experience of talking to members of other schools and learning about the wide variety of subjects that were being studied and taught within other disciplines around the island.

Our days were long and full, waking up early to grab breakfast, pack the truck, and hit the road to the palm populations. We spent most of our days measuring the individual trees that have been revisited year after year. Taking down height changes, leaf growth, seed production, changes in development and new seedling growth. I didn’t expect the field work to be easy but it’s another thing entirely to experience it firsthand. I had to maintain diligent about not only the information I was gathering but keeping stock of myself and my physical well-being. Water intake, sun exposure, heat, and environmental hazards had to be in the back of my mind while keeping a working pace. It was very hands-in-the-dirt work, and I loved the challenges it presented and how rewarding it was at the end of the day during data entry to put more information in than I had the day before.
The information I gained in two weeks was astounding. Actively observing, touching, and interacting with the population sample areas and trying to piece together interactions, as well as being in an environment where I was welcome to ask each one of the many questions that flitted through my mind, provided me with an immense amount of knowledge and perspective that couldn’t be taught indoors. Throughout the trip I gained an appreciation and even affection for the little trees, my fellow undergrad and I even started singing happy birthday to individuals who had met a milestone in the last year.

In the evenings we’d regroup at dinner to go over how much was done, what still needed to be done, and what the best plan of action was for the next day. Then we had just enough time to reorganize the materials, data sheets, and supplies for the next day's population and get some rest for the next day.
While the bulk of the experience and knowledge was surrounding the silver palm, I came away from the experience with substantially more: cultural experiences and story sharing with the San Salvador locals, spontaneous botany lessons, bird identification road games, and field work experience that I can carry with me throughout my academic and professional life. The most fulfilling part of the trip is that the work that my peer and I did while there is contributing to a larger project answering previously unknown questions about the trees we were studying, being a piece of a larger whole and contributing to overall ecological knowledge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Presenting the Highlight of my Undergraduate Career

From the left: Dr. Greg McManus, Mikail TaseXhensila Xhani, Reece Johnson, Nicole Giorgi, Megan McCormack, Myself, Ian Baxter, Luke Lamos, Dr. Daniel Paull 
This spring, I had the amazing pleasure of attending an American Chemical Society (ACS) National Conference in Orlando, FL to present my work as an undergraduate researcher. Doing research these past two years has been the highlight of my undergraduate career. I’ve faced challenges, met people, and attended events that have helped to shape me personally and professionally. With this conference one month before my graduation, it feels like an appropriate capstone to what research has been to me; connecting with people who share both a curiosity for the unknown and a drive to better the world. 
March 31st
The first day of the conference my carpool didn’t arrive until the late afternoon when the talks and presentations were over. I did, however, have the pleasure of attending an award ceremony where our Chemistry Club was awarded with ACS Honorable Mentions and Green Chemistry awards! 

Reece Johnson accepting the ACS Honorable Mention and Green Chemistry award on behalf of FGCU. 

After the award ceremony, we met up with Dr. Greg McManus’s research group who finished presenting their research at a poster session for dinner. The conference was just beginning! I couldn’t wait to start the next day early and attend the lectures of leaders in the field of chemistry.
April 1st
The next day we were up bright and early and parted ways once at the convention center. The conference was huge! There was an entire app dedicated just to finding lectures to attend and navigating the center. The only other conference I attended was in a single building with a few hundred attendees. This ACS National Conference was split across several buildings with thousands of attendees and presenters. It was surreal to think that all these people were fellow chemists! The most exciting part of the day was a lecture I attended presented by NASA where they explained the geochemistry of Mercury. Before I knew it, the day was over and I began planning the next day.

April 2nd
On Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity to attend a live Q&A with Nobel Prize Winner Karl Berry Sharpless! He had amazing stories regarding his work, his approach to science, and his views on the future of the scientific field. After the session, I was able to get his signature and a picture with him! 

The next morning, we left to return to Fort Myers, concluding our conference experience. Attending the ACS National Conference was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m immensely grateful for. I was able to explore many facets of the field of chemistry, learning from those on the cutting edge of the research. I also made connections with attendees and businesses that may prove invaluable post-graduation as well as deepening my friendships with my fellow students. I’d recommend to anyone with any interest in research or STEM to perform undergraduate research. It’s been incredibly rewarding work that’s improved my work ethic and critical thinking. Thanks to research my interest in laboratory science has been cemented and I now plan to pursue a doctorate degree in Chemistry! If you have any hesitation, try it out! You’ll learn if it’s right for you or not.

My research group. From the left: Dr. Daniel Paull, Camille Knudstrup, Reece Johnson, Mikail Tase, Myself, Ian Baxter, and Hind Benmerabet 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Inspired at ACS (American Chemical Society)

The word I would use to describe the ACS conference is inspiring. The conference center itself was massive and decorated with signs welcoming everyone to the conference. Inside, hundreds of Ph.Ds. from around the world presented their research findings. As an attendee I was able to go from room to room and listen to the talks I found most interesting. I listened to a series of presentations on the S-adenosyl methionine radical reactions and my whole group went to Dr. Paull’s presentation on increasing student-researcher efficacy.  Everyone attending was very accessible and willing to discuss new ideas or critiques, making the ACS conference a great environment for learning. 

I was honored to present my poster along with over a thousand other students from across the world. Posters were categorized as containing information pertaining to organic, inorganic, biological, technological, computational, and environmental chemistry. The poster presentations were my favorite part of the conference because of the diversity of the projects and the casual nature of the presentations. I was able to ask the students to elaborate on their projects and was exposed to lots of new ideas and information that I otherwise would never have known existed.

I really enjoyed the Expo and Career Fair as well. It was great to see interview rooms set up in the fair, which showed the companies there were serious about recruiting and hiring people at the ACS. I also saw a lot of new technology and spoke to liaisons who explained how their equipment was the newest and best in the field. The Expo even had interactive components where members could take pictures in front of the periodic table or vote on the best element, I chose Silver because it was in the top two.

           I left the conference with a feeling of well-being, knowing that so many intelligent people were putting their knowledge toward good causes, such as curing cancer or solving environmental pollution issues. I think my knowledge base has expanded as a result of the conference, because I am more aware of all the different types of fields a chemist could excel in. I would recommend that any future student try to attend an ACS or similar conference because it is an experience unlike anything else in college and will have rewards far beyond graduation. 

Student: Camille Knudstrup

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Disrupting the Cycle with Soles4Souls


            This report presents information on my recent trip to Nashville, TN where I was invited to participate in the AIB-SE Symposium for 2019. To be invited to this event one had to perform well in the semester-long X-Culture project for the International Business class. Me alongside Tyler Williams were amongst the top students and were invited to participate. The AIB-SE was working alongside Soles4Souls where they presented the six different groups with three challenges. One of which the groups had to choose to try to find a solution for it. I was placed in a group consisting of me and other international students from Mexico, Belgium, Canada, and other students from the US. We presented our solution to one of the issues facing Soles4Souls in front of their CEO, Buddy Teaster. The issue was of the potential lost opportunity of the thousands of discarded shoes during mud runs that they could add to their inventory or let them end up in landfills.

            The symposium also consisted of several workshops where professors from the other participating universities presented on several topics within the International Business sector. But mostly it was an opportunity for everyone to network with people from all over the world. I was able to form connections with not only my groupmates but also others from Italy, China, and Colombia. Also, I was quite fortunate to experience the stadium for the Tennessee Titans, which adds to my many experiences towards my future career in Sports Management.
My team #SoleyMud from left to right: Max from Mexico, myself, Catherine from Canada, Paige from Houston, Arnaud from Belgium, and Jessica from Philadelphia  

Background Information of Project

            We were invited to participate in the X-Culture AIB-SE Soles4Souls Challenge after having performed well in Dr. Rottig’s International Business class where we had to work on an International group project alongside students from all over the world. This project was assigned by AIB-SE, the Academy of International Business U.S. Southeast Chapter. We first had to take a placement test for us to be placed in international teams based on our results of the test. The test mostly covered subjects such as cultural intelligence and other international business topics. My group consisted of myself and members from Thailand, Italy, Ecuador, Colombia, and North Carolina, US. We chose to take on the challenge proposed by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with AIB-SE. Our challenge was to find new markets for the city of Nashville to attract and we made a report on how they should focus on attracting automotive companies towards creating electric and hybrid vehicles within the US. Based on our performance, the top teams of the semester were invited to the X-Culture Symposium in Nashville, TN. My team was invited but only I was able to attend due to travel complications for the rest of my team members. 

The Nashville Symposium

            We arrived in Nashville into a welcome reception held by AIB-SE followed by a comprehensive tour of the Soles4Souls headquarters led by their main staff. We had an interview session with their CEO, CFO, and CMO where they were available to answer questions the groups had come across during their research. We were also able to help them out through the sorting process of donations to get a better understanding of their daily business activities.

Two images of our work can be seen on the back of this report. Afterwards, we were all invited to a welcome session at a recording studio where many Country Music legends once recorded their songs. The following days consisted of opportunities for everyone to attend workshops and other sessions held by the professors from the participating universities and time for the groups to finalize their solutions. 

            During the last day, we presented in from of Soles4Souls’ CEO Buddy Teaster. He congratulated us on the creativity of our solutions and was very impressed with our idea of creating the initial donation idea into the minds of the participants during their registration process. He mentioned that he was also interested in discussing more in depth with his staff on how it would be possible for them to implement the sponsored racer solution we came up with. In the end, there was another group who won the prize for best solution. They came up with the idea of freezing the shoes for shipment which eliminated the risk of decomposition and I was quite impressed with their presentation. 

            I was also lucky to be able to get to know the city of Nashville specifically its most popular areas as well as the stadium for the Tennessee Titans and their professional hockey team. As a student hoping to work in the Professional Sports Management industry, I was quite happy to be able to observe the stadium in person. I thought about how they control entry and exit during games and how they create a sense of pride for the people of Tennessee in their organization. I was able to use the content I have learned throughout the several Sports Management classes I took at FGCU to get a first-hand experience of their facilities. As well as how they did so on their hockey stadium on the other side of the bridge.

The Soles4Souls Challenge

            Once accepted in the Symposium, I was placed once again in an international group. This time consisting of myself, one from Mexico, one from Belgium, one from Canada, and two other US students. This time our challenge was from the company Soles4Souls (S4S). They presented each group with three challenges, one of which we had to try to solve. S4S’s vision is “to disrupt the cycle of poverty by creating sustainable jobs and provide relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.” They have three main issues that they are currently facing. The first is the challenge of taking advantage of the factory surplus big companies are experiencing. The second is an exploration into European expansion. The third being the finding of a solution of the millions of discarded shoes that occur during mud runs. 

Organizing donated shoes at the Soles4Souls headquarters.

            My team, named #SoleyMud, chose to take on the mud run issue and we came up with a marketing solution that would help them save money on cleaning and shipping the dirty and discarded shoes from the mud runs. Mud runs happen all over the world ranging from Europe to South Africa and from Australia to Brazil. Estimates show that 30-50% of participants discard their shoes after the runs which creates thousands of discarded shoes every year in landfills. S4S decided to collect these shoes and clean them to sell to local entrepreneurs in impoverished areas, such as Haiti, for them to be able to make a living out of the shoes. The issues S4S came across was that the shoes are too dirty to clean, even with industrial washers, by the time they arrive, and the dirt creates a lot of weight which adds to shipping expenses. 

            My team’s solution was to have S4S sponsor a few of the runners participating in the events and have them lead the donors into cleaning their no longer desired shoes mostly to get rid of the heavy mud that will reduce the shipping expenses significantly. The industrial washers and dryers would take care of the rest. These sponsors are a low-cost solution because their compensation would be the entrance fee for the race, which can cost up to $500, and food and beverage during the day. An efficient way for S4S to have manpower at all races. Donors would me incentivized to clean their shoes so that they can show off their collected dirt to their friends. Also, a collaboration with the mud run organizers to place donation information during registration would entice more people to donate their shoes. 

Students: Tyler Williams & Marcelo Taborga
Mentor: Daniel Rottig
Department of Management

ACS National Meeting in Orlando, Florida – Spring 2019

  Brittany Klootwyk               Attending the ACS National Meeting was an incredible opportunity that I am glad I got to experience with...