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Abigail Reeves

Abigail Reeves
Graduate Student, 2020-2021 The Schimmel Family Endowed Fellows in the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences

Huang Lab, Department of Chemistry
BS in Biochemistry & BA in Chemistry, College of Charleston Honors College, Charleston, SC
The American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2023 National Meeting, August 13-17, 2023, San Francisco, CA

Supporting Growth for Women in Science | Inaugural Travel Awards Notification

Scripps Research

Abigail Reeves

Graduate Student, 2020-2021 The Schimmel Family Endowed Fellows in the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences

Conference Description: 

I am attending the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall Meeting hosted in San Francisco, California. These semiannual conferences are the largest hosted by ACS and are heavily attended by thousands of scientists. During the five days of the conference, I will attend poster sessions, talks and dinners to network and engage with scientists from across the country. I have also been selected for an oral presentation of my work titled “Capturing the dynamic placental cell surface proteome and Galectin-3 interactome during syncytialization via proximity labeling.” This work will be presented in the Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry special session called Advancing Women’s Health Through Glycoscience.

How will attending this conference add to your professional and scientific training? 

The value of scientific conferences cannot be understated. When I was an undergraduate with just a few months of research experience, I was awarded a travel grant to attend the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society. As I rode the bus from my small primarily undergraduate institute to this conference, still wavering in my decision to leave the pre-medical track to pursue chemistry, I was hesitant to commit to a research career. After my poster was heavily trafficked, I left my session with a renewed sense of excitement about my work and career choice. I also listened to talks from graduate students in chemical glycobiology labs, a research field I had not considered pursing before this conference but is now the focus of my PhD. The exposure and inspiration from this conference led to my complete commitment to research and my desire to pursue a PhD. Attending a conference was the catalyst for my scientific career, and I am certain that I can use the ACS Fall meeting to further secure my future as a research scientist. 

My first two years of graduate school coincided with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in canceled conferences and the occasional virtual meeting. I am grateful to have presented posters at the Scripps Graduate Student Symposium and at the San Diego Glycoscience conference, engaging in meaningful discussions about my work and receiving valuable feedback in a local environment, but the opportunity to network on the national level has been stymied. Now, as the pandemic wanes, I can attend the ACS Fall 

meeting and participate in an unprecedented and critical step in expanding my scientific footprint. 

As a rising fourth year graduate student, I will soon be applying for post-doctoral positions in a competitive market. Networking with scientists I am inspired by and want to be mentored by is essential to distinguish myself as a candidate for their labs. In particular, I will be presenting in a session with rising and established figures in glycobiology, including Stacy Malaker, Carlito Labrilla, and Nobel laureate Carolyn Bertozzi. These individuals have extensive mass spectrometry and chemical biology expertise, which overlaps well with my interests and skills acquired throughout graduate school. I am certain that the opportunity to attend the ACS Fall meeting, in particular without financial burden, will be critical to network with these important figures. Discussing my work with those outside of Scripps will improve my capacity to present clearly, concisely, and convincingly to improve my performance during committee meetings, my thesis defense, and future presentations when job hunting. I also anticipate receiving feedback, questions, and advice from experts that can improve my technical approaches and consider avenues of research I have not yet explored. 

Finally, my thesis is centered around the placenta, an understudied and niche organ, which can be challenging to discuss in a male-dominated field like chemical biology. However, I have the opportunity to present in a session specifically dedicated to women’s health. This will bring together scientists with expertise in my field of study for invaluable, pertinent feedback and will connect me with individuals that see value in advancing health outcomes for women. 

“I am hopeful that scientists that have not considered the importance of women’s health will be inspired by my work and consider how their skills can be leveraged to propel an underappreciated area of research forward.”