Ok - so this is definitely my last post. In summary, I am really excited at the amount of things I've learned during this conference. A big benefit of attending conferences like MRS is that it gives attendees the opportunity to learn about a broad range of topics related to materials science. While I am a magnetics person, I attended talks related to energy, phase change materials, and organic devices. At the moment, energy-related issues are smoking hot. Prior to this conference I couldn't really discuss energy issues coherently. However, after the energy forum on Monday I was inspired. My fiancee grew up on a corn and soy bean farm in central Illinois, so I came home Monday night and discussed all the things I learned during Chris Sommerville's talk. Perennial grasses, yes, it is definitely a subject the farmers are aware of there and are waiting to hear more about.
Phase change materials - there's a group in my department looking at phase change materials. I heard of phase change materials a few years ago while working on my thesis at IBM. The concept was cool, but I didn't know a much about it. However, this afternoon's phase change session really shed some light on the issue. Chalcogenides, Ge, Sb, Te, In. Interesting materials, good stuff.
As a second year, I've gotten over the initial intimidation of graduate school. Tuesday night's poster session was espcially memorable for me as I was able to discuss my material, CuCr2O4, with others. And I was also able to discuss another phase of my material with a colleague looking at transparent semiconductors. They are baby steps, but with each step, I belive people build confidence and grow in their careers. Also, by attending sessions not directly related to one's research, I think we become wiser and can make big picture connections fueling the potential for greater innovation. Anyway, thanks for a wonderful conference people. I look forward to seeing you next year.