Missouri State University
Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson

Research leads to great opportunity

When Zach Wilson submitted his research abstract to give a 20-minute presentation, he didn’t know he’d be requested to also present something much shorter. 

When Zach Wilson submitted his research abstract to the American Chemical Society (ACS) to give a 20-minute presentation, he didn’t know he’d be requested to also present something much shorter.

He was contacted by ACS directly to participate in a program known as ‘Presentation on Demand’ for their ACS Scientific Video Lab series.

“This consists of filming a three-minute, professional-quality presentation discussing my research,” said Wilson. “These research presentations are featured on the ACS website to be viewed by members all over the nation. My research project was the only one in Missouri State University that was selected for this program.”

Though the filming itself was a bit stressful—the entire video had to be shot in a 15-minute time slot—Wilson was grateful to be selected and to have the experience.

Presenting on a national stageZach Wilson with his award.

Wilson, who was inspired to attend Missouri State like his father, presented at the 252nd ACS National Meeting and Exposition, which was held in Philadelphia Aug. 20-25, 2016.

Wilson presented on his research, which is the study of the conversions of biodiesel to more conventional fuels through the process of thermal cracking. He conducted this research in the lab of Dr. Matthew Siebert.

“The advantage of studying the thermal cracking of biodiesel with computational chemistry is that not only does it not produce harmful chemicals that have to be carefully disposed of, but you can get a detailed description of what is going on at the atomic level as the process evolves with time,” said Wilson. “I felt that the crowd was very supportive of my presentation overall.”

What surprised Wilson was which presentation he ended up finding to be more difficult.

“Oddly enough, the 20-minute presentation in front of Ph.D. computational chemists was easier than the three-minute presentation,” said Wilson. “With the 20-minute presentation, I felt as though the crowd was very supportive, and I felt more supported by my PowerPoint slides. However, with the three-minute presentation, I could only have four total slides, and I had only 15 minutes to record all of my takes.”

Wilson was appreciative of the opportunity to shoot the three-minute video, present at the conference and network with fellow professionals while also attending classes and talks.

“It was truly a breathtaking experience to see the sheer magnitude of the venue with the volume of people of all walks of academia and industry,” said Wilson. “There were several free classes and presentations being held, and I went to many of them.”