Jason Hoki stood alone in front of a poster with pictures of rare microscopic minerals.
With a salesmans shoeshine-and-a-smile enthusiasm that playwright Arthur Miller would appreciate, the chemistry and engineering intern at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., explained to curious scientists how his research might make it possible to use less of the minerals that have become scarce because of reductions from China, their primary supplier.
He got a lot of bites from scientists meeting at the Boise Centre through Thursday at the joint conference of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pacific Division. More than 700 people are registered for the annual meetings.
Like speed daters, scientists, students and others checked out more than 100 presenters Monday showing off posters of experiments from around the region.
Hoki said his work characterizes a particular group of rare earth elements, called lanthanides, that can be used in solar panels, electric car batteries and computers.
Its like a fair, said Hoki, who attends Sonoma State University and is from San Rafael, Calif. You dont get this atmosphere even at school.
Brady Lawrence of Nampa was showing off his study on how to attach materials to semiconductor nanocrystals, technology that has applications ranging from medicine to electronics.
Its totally exploding, said Lawrence, a Boise State University student.
Megan Sandman, a new BSU biology graduate, talked about her research into reducing the side effects of the anti-cancer substance mitomycin. Its a good start for her entry into medical school in New York this fall.
A lot the people want to know about me and my background, she said. They want to know how much I know as an undergraduate.
The conference features technical presentations as well as more general-interest programs. Topics Monday included the beginning of life; astronaut Barbara Morgan on long-term health in space; the effects of aging on aluminum alloys; criminal psychology; and a look at how the warming climate is changing sagebrush-steppe ecosystems in Idaho and beyond.
There also were hands-on opportunities. Eagle chemistry and physics teacher Bruce Cornell was poking holes in a plastic tarp that he would insert into a cylinder duct-taped inside a bucket.
This vortex cannon, when operated correctly, shoots out a burst of air that demonstrates molecular motion.
Its designed to demonstrate a chemical reaction, Cornell said. I guess its as much physics as chemistry.
The hands-on workshops were aimed at helping chemistry teachers create and present new ideas to students. Throughout the building, teachers and scientists traded ideas.
It gave us a chance to collaborate ... and form relationships with university people, Cornell said.
Moderator Henry Charlier, a Boise State professor, intends to create a website that allows the teachers to post their own demonstrations. They were already taking the examples offered at the conference and making them better, he said.
A lot of them are doing far more complex demonstrations than I showed them, he said.
Rocky Barker: 377-6484