Notes from the ACA

This summer the CCDC was proud to award our first ACA Student Travel Award to graduate student Madushani Dharmarwardana of the University of Texas at Dallas.  Madushani was able to present her work in a talk in the prestigious Etter Early Career session.  She wrote this post for our CCDC blog sharing some of her experiences at the American Crystallographic Association’s annual meeting in Denver.

I am starting my fourth year in my chemistry PhD in Prof Jeremiah Gassensmith’s group at the University at Texas at Dallas. My research mainly focuses on the synthesis and properties of Naphthalene diimide derivatives and how dynamics in single crystals of NDI impact the optical properties and band gap with respect to temperature, pressure, etc. I became really interested in crystallography since most of my projects are based on single crystal analysis and so I decided to attend the 2016 ACA meeting in Denver. While I was submitting the abstract to the 2016 ACA annual meeting, I discovered the ACA travel grant and applied for it hoping to just cover my travel and hotel expenses.  After a few months, I heard back from ACA that not only had I won the travel award but it was sponsored by CCDC for the first time. This was very special for me as this award goes to students who are doing outstanding research in structural chemistry. The CCDC travel award not only covered my expenses for the ACA meeting but also promised to help me for my research projects. My research involves lots of crystal growing and identification of new crystal structures.  For this purpose, I use Cambridge Crystallographic Database (CSD) regularly for my research because CSD is most up to date data base for crystal structures.

My work was selected for presentation at the Etter Early Career Session, which was a great opportunity for me to present to so many other great and young scientists. The experience of presenting my work at ACA meeting was amazing. I was able to attend several talks related to my research and was able to learn tons of things about my field. Most of the sessions I attended including poster sessions were really interesting and organized in such a way that they grouped similar content. While I was at the conference, I was able to meet people who does similar science and I was able to speak with famous people in the field of crystallography. I believe that 2016 ACA meeting was a great conference for young scientists in crystallography related fields and I left so very excited about what I was doing and the community that works in my area.   

I am very excited to return to chair a session at the 2017 ACA conference. I feel like this meeting and all of you in the community made me feel so welcome and involved. I am looking forward to getting my work published and discussing more of it in the very near future. I am particularly grateful to the CCDC for recognizing my work and providing me with the opportunity to travel to the ACA annual conference.

Madushani and I take a break from the busy meeting to pose for a picture.