Renowned for its cuisine and chefs and as a global hub of the energy industry, New Orleans this week hosts what news media have described as the "World Series of Science," one of the year's largest and most important scientific conferences.
The meeting, which begins today and continues through Thursday, happens to have the theme "CHEF," which stands for "The Chemistry of Energy and Food."
More than 14,000 scientists and others are expected to gather in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and downtown hotels for the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. It features almost 12,000 reports and other presentations on scientific topics that involve chemistry. These range from astronomy to zoology, and include medicine, health, global climate change, sustainable supplies of clean drinking water, environment, new materials, electronics, business — and of course the quest for new, sustainable sources of energy and a healthier, more abundant food supply. The meeting includes a major exposition of scientific instruments, publications and other resources.
In addition to pushing back the horizons of scientific knowledge, the meeting will leave a positive mark on the regional economy, according to Tara Letort of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Letort cited projections that it will add at least $16 million to the local economy.
"News media are on target in calling our meetings the World Series of Science," said Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D., ACS president. "In terms of the number of reports on new discoveries that connect with everyday life, the attendance, the range of scientific topics and the caliber of the attendees, these are major events. During the next week, the concentration of scientific brainpower in a few square blocks of New Orleans will be exceptional."
James N. Seiber, Ph.D., program chair, said that thousands of the scientific reports relate to the meeting's core theme, CHEF. Organizers of the ACS' two annual National Meetings seek themes that connect with the venues' geography, history, culture or other attributes.
"New Orleans is internationally renowned for its cuisine," said Seiber, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of California at Davis and editor of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, one of the ACS' more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific journals. "And the Gulf Coast is a hub of the global energy industry, a major producer of crude oil and natural gas and the petrochemicals used to make medicines, plastics, clothing, electronics and thousands of other products that underpin everyday life."
Sessions — 64 in all — related to the theme carry titles that include "The Chemistry of the Bar," "Analytical Chemistry of the Deepwater Horizon Spill," "Biofuels and Sustainable Energy," the "Nexus of Food, Energy and Water" and, of course, the "Chemistry of Energy and Food."
Keynote speakers for the meeting:
- Peter Schieberle, Ph.D., Technical University of Munich: The chemistry of food flavors: Simply pleasure or beyond?
- John Floros, Ph.D., Kansas State University: Feeding the world through science and technology: A look into our future food system
- César Vega, Ph.D., Mars, Incorporated: The kitchen as laboratory: Building bridges between science and the non-scientist
- Walter Rakitsky, Ph.D., Solazyme, Inc.: Microalgal triglyceride oils: A new source of renewable oil for energy and food
Special lectures sponsored by the Kavli Foundation will be among the highlights on April 8. Christy Haynes, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, will deliver the inaugural Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecture. The Emerging Leaders Lectures recognize the work of outstanding young chemical scientists. Daniel G. Nocera, Ph.D., Harvard University, will deliver the "Kavli Foundation Innovations in Chemistry Lecture," updating progress in developing his "artificial leaf."
News media can register onsite for credentials to cover the meeting in Room 215-216 of the Morial Convention Center, where press conferences will be held starting at 8 a.m. today. A package of press releases and a press conference schedule are available from the news media contacts above. News media also can join live press conferences at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive.