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Bye, everyone, it's been fun!  Thanks for reading the blog!   I think maybe I got more out of this conference because I knew I had to write something interesting down... made me pay more attention, be more thoughtful about what I saw.  Try it sometime! 

Hope you enjoy your remaining time in SF!  If you want to do something super touristy, go to Ghiradelli Square and get free chocolate when you walk into the store.  And then walk out and walk in again.  And again. And again...

Final Spring Thoughts...

This terms conference went well! Its finally over. I am sure you all have gotten enough hand shakes and network contacts and new thoughts and perspectives on how to approach your own work! I know I have, and I hope to see everyone again in a year, or sooner. I think highlights for me were:
Poster Session talks about science
Meeting people in between the sessions over coffee to discuss the most provocative talk of the last session
Symposium X.

Mostly I liked everything about the conference that forced me to think about or approach a problem from a new and different angle. Conferences rock! and Spring MRS is a golden standard in my book.
Thanks for checking out the blog! Peace!


I've got a backlog of photos here, might as well post them on this quiet Friday @ MRS...

Berkeley folks at the Kohn promoting his Power of the Sun video session!

Mrs 002 Mrs 013  Mrs 014 Mrs 005

Nearly empty Moscone Center, lunchtime on Friday....Mrs 015

Famous faces!
Mrs 017



I've been at the conference pretty much from 8:30am to 10-11pm every night for the last few days and I'm pretty burnt out. While it has been exceptionally illuminating and fun, there's only so much I can take before I need a break. So, to keep myself sane, I decided to come in late and spend a couple of hours this morning in the meadow by Fort Mason in North Beach. Its a great place to just hang out, BBQ, play frisbee, read etc. Unfortunately for me, I had a backlog of work to do because I was at MRS all week! Thus, my "break" from the conference was spent grading papers for a class I'm TAing and finishing up a report for the organisation that funds the project I'm working on. Atleast I got to sit outside in the sun by the water :)
-- Dan

Friday morning talks. Good turnout!

Today is the last day of Spring MRS. While the population of the conference has started to dwindle, there are still many who are trying to fuflill their fix of talks for the next quarter (before the next conference!). Some symposium have been combined, so if you don't quite see the talks you want in your "goto" symposium, look at some of the others that may have some overlap. You will find yourself pleasantly surprised. But in any case, Friday is a good day for exploration! Go see symposia you know nothing about! Also go explore the city!

The weather is great in sunny SF! And for many of you this will be a pleasant break from the tough weather back home! Enjoy your stay in SF!

Thursday wrap up...

I just got home from the poster session and I can tell you that I had a great time. Most of today's posters were not directly related to my research but I enjoyed the session anyway. It gave me a chance to just wander around and talk to people about research that I found interesting. 

Most of the talks in Symposium M today were focused on commercialization of compound thin films. It was interesting for me to see some of the problems that the more mature technologies like CdTe and CIGS are having in going from lab cells to commercial modules. I believe it will allow researchers who are working on the next generation of technologies in the pipeline to try and address some of the problems the mature technologies are facing from the beginning. 

Last but not least, I got a chance to meet a couple of friends from undergrad that I hadn't seen in 3-4 years and catch up with them. They are all doing exciting research in a variety of fields and were here to present their talks/posters.

NY Times article: Stoves and the Environment

For those of you that made it to the Symposium X talks on Wednesday by Richard Le Sar and Scott Lacy, you may be interested in seeing this New York Times article on the environmental consequences of conventional stoves in developing countries. 

It states quite the statistic for black carbon emissions from these stoves: 

"While carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures, scientists say, black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide."
Really, 18%? Sounds like a lot to just come from stoves.  

You can likely find more information on the two speakers and their work on their websites at Iowa State University (Le Sar) and Emory University (Lacy). 

Day Passes!

I've got an idea about how we could improve the MRS conferences: Day passes.  There are a lot of attendees that are local and only want to go for one section of a symposium (half a day) or one or two talks.  I think people right now resort to sneaking in to the MRS in order to see one research group that really pertains to what they're doing.  Which is why we had to have that poor guard standing in the lobby all the time checking badges. 

I think in order to address this problem, MRS should issue day passes-- charge maybe a little bit more than 1/5 of the full week price, so that if you wanted to go for 3 days you might as well get the season pass-- and maybe then people wouldn't have to sneak around in order to learn.  I realize that the logistics of this might be a little difficult to figure out-- you've got to balance fairness to people from out of town, and keep the community feel of the meeting.  But hey, just throwing it out there.  So that students whose advisers won't pay for them to go to the full meeting can come, too! 

Thought of this because my labmate N. Adelstein was reading the story from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!  about going to a gravity conference a day late and describing to the cab driver what the scientists would have looked like (guys wandering around not paying attention to much and saying things like G-mu-nu! G-mu-nu!).  How would you blend in at an MRS conference...?  Look uncomfortable dressed in nice clothes, and get excited about anything with the word nano...?

Science is ART.

So the slow and eventual tragic wrap up of MRS must be just around the corner, because I just saw they have posted the winners for the Science as Art competition. If you didn't vote, or didn't submit one this year, there is always the Fall or even next Spring! I don't always agree with the winners, but Art is a tough thing to judge. And since everyone views things differently, they (wisely) choose multiple winners. I think they are all kind of cool. My favorite one is the picture of the nitric acid etch of a felines tooth showing the ceramic structures! 

Another sign that MRS will be over soon: The exhibitors have packed up! 
But not to fear, there are still quite a number of talks ahead of us, and I have done a glance at my itnerary and there are still more than a dozen talks that I am interested in seeing. So if you are thinking of leaving early; don't! Change your flight, stay in the bay for the whole weekend! Also check out the talks tomorrow. 

Old friends!

I love MRS for bringing the materials community together!!!  It makes me remember that the science world isn't as big as it seems...  What brought this on?  I ran into my old adviser today!  Did an internship at NREL a couple of summers ago through the SULI program (it was one of the best summers of my life; you should check it out if you've got a free summer!) working with transparent conducting oxides.  Xiaonan Li, my adviser that summer, gave a talk at Symposium M today!  I dropped in to see her speak, and said hello to her and all of her NREL colleages, who actually remembered me!!  Good times, good memories. 

Talking to her made me think about the interface between basic research and industry.  Xiaonan's work at NREL is really at the cusp of these areas--  you can get really high efficiency thin film solar cells that are homogeneous and well controlled when they're only 2 or 3 square centimeters in area!  But when you try and scale that up to 6x6 inch panels or larger... you run into problems.  So you must have people working on the scale up process.  That made me wonder about where these people belong??  Are they best suited to national labs, or should they be more associated with start-ups and industry??  Because I've observed in my limited time working at LBL that there are negative views about research that has a little too much to do with industry-- and people politicking and trying to push them out to make room for more basic science.   Guys, your awesome finding isn't going to help anyone unless you can scale it up for mass production!  And you have to respect the people working on that!!  Science for the sake of science is great, and often beautiful and satisfying...  but you also want to be able to apply it to help the world, right?