How to prepare for conferences?

In about 4 days, MRS Meeting Fall 2017 will commence. As a young researcher, I often wonder what is the best way to prepare for conferences. It can be particularly nerve-wrecking as MRS is one of the largest materials conferences and like me, I am sure you will want to make the most out of your time there!

Here are some tips that you might find useful:

  • Check out the conference schedule beforehand.

Mark the talks you wish to attend. MRS has an app for those of you who are tech-savvy. For traditionalist like me, you can print the meeting schedule and mark it manually. However, do take note that due to unforeseen circumstances, some talks might be cancelled or re-scheduled. To avoid disappointment, I will advise you to check the most updated meeting information online daily.

  • Contact scientists you wish to meet

During MRS meeting, there will be many excellent scientists, making it an extremely useful platform for scientific exchange and collaborations. I find it useful to contact researchers that I wish to meet beforehand. If you are worried that your email might be missed, one other way is to attend the presentations in person, and interact with the presenters.

  • Rehearse for your presentation

What better way to leave a conference feeling accomplished than acing your presentation. Whether you are giving an oral or poster presentations, they are good avenues for you to showcase your hard work. Be proud of it and actively share it with other conference participants. Invite people to your presentations (like what I will do here shamelessly)!

**Come and support my oral presentation on 30th November, 3pm at Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Republic A if you free**

I hope that these 3 simple tips will be helpful especially for scientists who are attending their first conference!

You might want to check out a post I have written previously for Naturejobs Blog about networking skills.

Hello again MRS!

By Humaira Taz

It's that time of the year again when the area around Hynes Convention Center in Boston gets busy with intellect - MRS Fall Meeting! This will be my third MRS meeting and I am looking forward to it as excited as ever. Every year, for the past three years, it is as if my research progress from January till November culminates to an MRS presentation or poster. This will also be the second time I am blogging for the MRS Meeting Scene and I am super grateful to Judy Meiksin for giving me this opportunity again.

Before I proceed any further, let me introduce myself. I am a fifth-year PhD candidate at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. My research focus is on a novel amorphous iron-terbium-dysprosium oxide that could potentially find applications in electronic/memory devices. This year I have had the opportunity to work with one of the finest groups in the Materials Science and Engineering department at University of California-Berkeley as part of my dissertation research. The group at UCBerkeley focuses on multiferroic materials and devices, so my objective was to try to incorporate my material into a multiferroic device. In fact, I will be giving an oral presentation on this project on Tuesday, November 28th at 4PM in Hynes, Level 1, Room 107 (Paper #: EM02.05.06). Everyone is invited! I also have a poster on thermal cycling of my material Tuesday night (ES03.06.28), so stop by if you are interested in amorphous oxide semiconductors. IMG_2198

On the sidelines, I like to invest my time in writing, painting, and cooking. I am particularly interested in science writing for the general audience and would like to pursue a career in that someday. Thanks to Judy, I also got to contribute two articles for the MRS Bulletin and certainly hope to continue doing it. 

Last year during this time, I was hoping to graduate by December 2017. My objective for MRS Fall 2016 meeting was to find a career prospect in the industry in Toronto, Canada since my husband lives there and it is about time we move-in together (you can check out my previous blog on this here). However, the UCBerkeley opportunity came up and my thesis developed a whole new branch. My adviser recently assured me that I will graduate in May 2018 (fingers crossed, knock on wood), and so I am even more focused this time to network as much as I can towards a career in the industry in Toronto. I think this was the universe's way of allowing me to "practice-network" before the real deal. Aside from networking and attending interesting talks, my checklist consists of getting a professional photo taken (finally), getting critiques on my resume, attending the Women in Science Breakfast, and definitely checking out one of my favorite parts of MRS: Science as Art submissions. 

If you have any questions about my work (research and sidelines), or if you are interested in blogging for MRS Meeting Scene but not sure if it gets overwhelming, or if you want a pal to explore restaurants, feel free to send me a message through the MRS app. You are also welcome to connect with me on Twitter @TazHumaira (or LinkedIn) and reach out that way. Last piece of advice: come prepared for the Boston cold - layers are the key!


Hola from Irene

Hey y'all! I am Irene, I am a postdoc at Simon Fraser University in Canada although I did my PhD at the University of Zaragoza in Spain. My research focus is magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications but, honestly, I enjoy all things nano and materials.

How do you do

This will be my first MRS meeting and I can't wait for it! The program looks amazing and I don't think it will be easy to choose which talks to attend each day. I also like that there are plenty of professional development workshops. I am particularly interested in the Research Mentor Workshop where I hope to learn tips and tricks on how to better motivate the students under my supervision and help them achieve their career goals.

Besides wanting to attend ALL THE TALKS AND WORKSHOPS, I have two posters and two talks so I am going to be quite busy. I will be presenting on my core research, nanoparticles for biomedical applications (of course), but also on safety of engineered nanomaterials (one of my main concerns as a person handling nanomaterials on a daily basis) and optimization of water electrolyzers (sustainable energy sources are other of my personal interests as, you know, a person that lives on planet Earth). You can expect me to babble about any of these topics, but also about diversity in STEM, food or any general thoughts that come to my mind about MRS and Boston.

Shoot me up any questions on the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @IAndreuNano. Let's roll!


Yohoo from Andy!

Hi everyone,

I am Andy, a postdoc fellow in Stanford University. My research area is in material-neural interface and I have created several neuro-modulatory technologies during my PhD.

I will be attending MRS Fall Meeting 2017 and there are a few reasons why I am particularly excited about it:

1) This is my first time in Boston! During my visit, I plan to meet my friends studying in the city and try the famous lobster rolls (any recommendation is greatly appreciated).

2) I will be giving an oral presentation on magnetic hydrogels. Come and support me on 30th November, 3pm at Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Republic A if you free.

3) I am also very honored to be the recipient of the inaugural MRS Bulletin Postdoc Publication Prize. Feel free to ask me what this prize is about and how to prepare for this application if you are interested to learn more!

4) Lastly, I am glad to be given an opportunity to be a MRS blogger. I hope that my blogs will provide you insightful information about the meeting. I also hope that my articles will serve as a platform for me to converse with you on things such as the importance of evidence-based science communications.

Hope to see you at MRS =)



What I obtained in this MRS Meeting

The five-day meeting has brought me a lot.

1) Deepened my understanding about my research through presentations and discussions with researchers with different backgrounds but working in fields relevant to my research.

2) Practiced how to present and communicate effectively to both experts in my fields and "laymen" with other research specialty.

3) Practiced scientific writing and news writing by attending the MRS Science Writing workshop and serving as a blogger.

4) Extended my professional network. I've interviewed leading figures in my research fields and was also able to discuss with other talented graduate students.

5) Met MRS organizers who I would never see in my life if I didn't decide to come. Chats with session organizers and meeting organizers as well as MRS website administrator revealed numerous behind-the-scenes stories, adding unique elements to my meeting experience.

If you are one of the graduate students who are reading this post but didn't get a chance to involve this time, I would encourage you to attend the MRS Fall Meeting at Boston in this Nov.


Ready to get back at it

While I enjoyed a week out of the lab, off from stressing about deadlines and papers, I am ready to get back at it. This week invigorated me to work harder at my research in order to be able to present my work to the next convention (MRS Fall, anyone?). Hearing from all these names who I’ve never met, but read papers of and bouncing ideas around with them allowed me to realize that science is all in this together.

I am ready to bring what I had learned about my materials and processes back home with me to the lab. MRS may be over for now, but the effects that this conference had will play a vital role in my research. -Ingrid

Pizzeria Bianco

Ever since I saw Pizzeria Bianco on Yelp I knew I had to visit the cute little red brick building once before I leave, and today seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. With the one hour I had left in Phoenix, before my flight back to Los Angeles, I made my colleagues walk over to Heritage Square to grab a pie with me. Because it was after lunch hours there was no wait at all for a table, but the restaurant was still pretty and almost full. 

I ended up ordering a 1/2 Sonny 1/2 Wiseguy pizza, while my colleague enjoyed a unique gingerale (this soda brand that Pizzeria Bianco carried boasts low sugar as a feature). The pizza was amazing and words can't do justice, but I can guarantee that the somewhat steep price of $20 for a small pie was worth all my dollar bills. If you're in the area and/or looking for a great pizza, stop by Pizzeria Bianco.

Convention Center

The convention center, my home for the last week, is a unique building. Perhaps my favorite architectural quality of the convention center would be the giant “garage door” which opens during the mornings. It makes the PCC very accessible and open to the world around it. It made the atmosphere of the convention extend beyond the heavy (they were pretty heavy for me) doors, and out to the streets, to fully embrace the city.

Going downstairs to the exhibit hall and registration was a complete transformation as well, seeing high ceilings and large open areas, even allowing for indoor walking between PCC buildings. Being on the first floor, PCC West was a very busy place where I saw most of my nanomaterials talks. PCC North seemed to be a bit calmer. The rooms in North seemed much larger, and more personal.

While the PCC is not the biggest convention center I’ve been in, it definitely has a lot of character to it. I think this was a great choice for MRS17 to have been held.


Phoenix: A Busy City

When we first arrived on Monday, I was excited to see all the other scientists walking around with their MRS badge. On that same day, I saw an influx of high school groups in the hotels nearby and in the convention center. This was the SkillsUSA group, a convention aimed to help high school students who wish to pursue careers as police, firemen, etc.

As the week went on, I saw a variety of people come in and out of the hotels. Most of the people I saw were MRS members, as I was constantly in the crowd, but I also met some people who were there on business trips, some locals who came down for festivities, and even some vacationers who are enjoying downtown.

Finally, on our last days, I noticed many women move into my hotel, a group part of some choir conference. While I never learned more about the chorus activities, I noticed that the city had changed in the week, from being filled with high schoolers running around, riding the elevator to kill time, to now being filled with the sounds of choirs breaking into song.

Downtown Phoenix and the convention center is a bustling, busy city that is constantly changing and welcoming many unique groups and visitors.


A piece of suggestion for MRS

In an early post, our blogger John mentioned that as MRS members, you are qualified for a number of benefits:

MRS is surely doing an awesome job in providing us these services, but I don't know how many of you are aware all of them. My personal feeling is that MRS is a little bit "shy" in reaching out to its members. Personally I would like to receive emails notifying me anything that MRS is providing. As far as I know, researchers frequently check their emails because conversations in academia primarily utilize emails as the communication platform. 

I, as an MRS member, would like to hear what great works MRS is doing for us!

-Tianyu Liu UCSC