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The 10th Anniversary Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium: A Virtual Success

Posted on December 21st, 2020 by in Chemistry

No one anticipated that the 10th anniversary Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium would be a virtual event, but as we discussed earlier on in this blog, most gatherings of scientific researchers have had to go online this year because of COVID-19. As it turned out, the virtual symposium was a very special event in its own right.

Recognizing the achievements of young chemists

The Reaxys PhD Prize is renowned as a prestigious award for PhD students in the chemical sciences. Finalists earn the opportunity to join the Reaxys Prize Club, an exclusive community of chemists, and they are all invited to make poster presentations at the annual symposium. The top finalists each give a talk on their work, and then three winners are chosen. Each winner receives a $2,000 prize.

Putting it all online

Amidst COVID-19, the question became whether or not it was possible to continue with the 10th anniversary gathering for the Reaxys PhD Prize online and still have it be the same thought-provoking and lively showcase of ideas that it usually is.

“This year’s symposium required a lot of creative problem solving to pull off a virtual global competition,” said Dr. Samantha Green, who was a Best Poster Award honoree. “I applaud the organizers for such a successful event! There are few things I would enjoy waking up at 5am to do, but hearing about some of the great chemistry happening by the Reaxys advisory board, previous members, and my fellow finalists certainly made everything worthwhile.” 

The symposium held around the world

Taking place over three days from September 30 to October 2, 2020, the virtual Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium was more accessible to a global audience than ever before. Registrants were able to enjoy talks from the 11 shortlisted finalists, a keynote address from Professor Bruce H. Lipshutz of the University of California – Santa Barbara, guest lectures from previous Reaxys Prize participants and poster presentations from all 45 of this year’s finalists. Prof. Timothy Maimone, a winner in the first year of the competition, was among the guest speakers, helping to bring things full circle for this 10th anniversary celebration.

Importantly, the event was designed with interaction in mind. Participants were able to ask questions in the chat box during live presentations, a forum was available for the exchange of ideas, and a Meet Your Peers section was offered to encourage networking. Access to webinars and interviews was also provided via a content library and an Exhibitors section provided ample opportunity to explore chemistry journals and solutions.

Honoring this year’s prize winners

“This competition made me realize that we all are able to be connected through science and technology by exchanging our achievements, ideas, and dreams.” – Dr. Keiichi Yano, a 2020 Reaxys PhD Prize winner.

Though this year’s symposium was different than years past, it was still a wonderful tribute to the amazing work being done by today’s up-and-coming chemists.

“The three 2020 Reaxys Prize winners, Jianchun Wang, Rupert Proctor and Keiichi Yano, are truly outstanding,” said Henry Wong, Reaxys Advisory board member. “They demonstrated in their research outputs not only a great deal of creativity and novelty, but also an immense level of depth. Both their oral presentations and their way of tackling questions from the audience are indeed impeccable.”

Learn more about the research of all 45 of this year’s finalists by viewing their posters online here.

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