During a thirty-something-year career as a science writer in daily journalism, I looked forward to autumn almost as much as my colleagues in the sports department. Baseball writers had their big event of the year every October — the World Series;. science writers had their big event every August or September — the American Chemical Society’s national meeting.
The ACS autumn meeting is a “must” for science writers from major news outlets. Like its spring counterpart, the autumn ACS meeting offers thousands of reports on new advances in a science so interdisciplinary that it includes astronomy, zoology and almost everything in between. ACS national meetings offer an amazingly rich variety of spot news, features and background for media who cover science, medicine, health, food, energy, environment and business. There’s plenty of material for spot news, features, background for in-depth projects and the opportunity to develop contacts and sources in the scientific community.
Despite a transition from daily journalism earlier this year, I’m just as excited about the upcoming 232nd ACS National Meeting, which will be held September 10-14 in San Francisco. I’m working in a new role now, helping the ACS Office of Communications (OC) help the news media with preparations for covering this science extravaganza. In San Francisco, I’ll be putting on my reporter’s badge again and covering scientific sessions and other events for this weblog throughout the meeting.
We’re expecting more than 17,000 scientists and other attendees at the San Francisco meeting, which will feature almost 10,000 papers and posters. Those numbers are not typos. ACS, after all, is the world’s biggest scientific organization, with more than 158,000 members.
The OC staff has already been at work for weeks, sifting through abstracts of papers scheduled for presentation. Since late May, we’ve been reading abstracts, talking to researchers and symposia organizers, and contacting PIOs at research institutions across the country to find newsworthy papers that we can feature in news releases, tip sheets, lay-language summaries, press briefings and other resources for the news media.
If you bookmark our blog and return a few times, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at those preparations, and perhaps a tip or two about hot news to expect from San Francisco. Here’s one teaser from my own scan of the abstracts. Scientists have found a biochemical basis for centuries-old beliefs about a chicken used in traditional Chinese medicine. This is one odd bird. Supermarkets that dare to display the meat in clear plastic can expect screams from shoppers.
With hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters galvanizing public attention, ACS has chosen disaster prevention and recovery as the multidisciplinary theme of the meeting. Among other topics:
● Exciting advances in nanomedicine and other areas of nanotechnology
● Health threats from mycotoxins and allergens in food
●Nuclear forensic science and its role in detecting and tracking illicit nuclear material
● The next generation of solar cells and other renewable sources of energy.
● Continuing studies on the environmental impact of Hurricane Katrina.
● A symposium honoring the late Nobel laureate Richard Smalley that includes dozens of reports on single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and their potential uses in nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields. One tantalizing report is entitled “The Strongest Fiber There Will Ever Be.”
● The latest progress in finding new biomarkers for killer diseases
● New protein-based drugs and delivery of genes for gene therapy
For reporters unable to travel to the beautiful Bay Area, the ACS News Service will offer an enhanced media kit with dozens of non-technical summaries of the presentations, news releases and other resources. The media kit, with embargoed content, will be available in mid-August. News Service staff will be available to arrange telephone interviews. Remote access will be available to daily press conferences, and the News Service’s weblog will provide the sights, sounds and news bites from the sessions.
Embargoed news releases will be available to reporters on EurekAlert! in mid-August. The ACS News Service will post the releases, once an embargo is lifted, on its public Web site: www.chemistry.org/news.
For media registration and meeting information email email@example.com or go to: http://chemistry.org/news/acs_media_registration.html.
I’m drafting a list of sizzling hot news topics for the next post, so drop by again soon.