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December 2013

Behind the Scenes - Big Thank You!

Dear Blog Readers,


This will be my last post for the blog and I wanted to make a special post of thank you for all the people that worked to make this event a great success: MRS staff members, MRS committees members, volunteers and technicians. Below I post some images of some of those people that we all attendees should give them a big THANK YOU!

Meeting chairs RegistrInfo IMG_4555

Some of the behind the scenes people that make it happen.

And as I left the convention center heading to the airport, I saw the Santa Claus (image below) to whom I asked to wave me for a goodbye to the picture when he replied me that "no goodbyes, just hellos". 


Hello from Santa Claus at Convention Center while leaving the MRS 2013 Fall Meeting in Boston.

Hope to see you all again and that our Blog Readers enjoyed our reports in the MRS 2013 Fall Meeting Blog. And as suggested our sympathetic Santa Claus, I will end with a BIG THANK YOU for all that make it happen and "HELLO" ! :)




Member Engagement Committee - Special Recognition at MRS 2013 Fall Meeting

Dear Blog Readers,


Many of you might not know all the activities that the Member Engagement Committee has been doing and as a volunteer of this committee this year I had the opportunity to be more aware of its activities when I participated at their meeting (image below). This committee headed by Yves Chabal and Michele L. Feder is devoted to membership engagement and volunteerism, with special focus to professional development and networking of minorities.

Meeting engagem

 Member Engagement Committee meeting during MRS 2013 Fall Meeting in Boston.


The very active leaders of the subcommittees of Diversity, headed by Magaly Spector, and Women in Materials Science & Engineering, headed by Dawnielle Farrar, have been awarded this year with the Woody Award in recognition to their extraordinary contributions as volunteer at these subcommittees (image below). 


Woody award

Woody Award recognition (during Plenary Session at MRS 2013 Fall Meeting) to Magaly Spector and to Dawnielle Farrar for their extraordinaly example of volunteers for the society.


Among their activities it can be cited: mentoring programs, workshops, special breakfast and outreach activities. This year there was a special meeting that I also was able to participate headed by Michele Feder to focus on Post docs and how MRS could benefit/serve them. It was great to be heard on that opportunity and to know that MRS starts to pay attention in our issues. Thus, if you are a Post doc like me, I can antecipate that there will be changes for us, probably special activities trough the Career Center and possible decrease on membership fee. Thank you again MRS! 

For those who want to volunteer at the Member Engagement Committee or other committee you can complete the Volunteer Profile Form (available at and contact Michele L. Feder

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” (Charles Dickens)


Exhibitors Center

At Exhibitors Center I found the following booth quite interesting and it might be useful for you too:

=> AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

As Salaeha Shariff (project director of the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships) explained me this is a program for doctoral level degree and U.S. citizenship people interested to apply their knowledge and skills to national and international issues in the federal policy. This was really interesting to me because in my country we don't have these fellowships. Application deadlines are generally november 1. More details at


=> European Comission

At this booth, the European Comission advertised their four programs (from masters scholarships to research fellowships and grants) to aid researchers to have experience in Europe:

- Erasmus Mundus offers masters or joint doctorate scholarships and also scholarships to the exchange of students and staff between European and non-European universities (3 months to 3 years). More information at

- Marie Curie Actions offers for non-european researchers experience in prestigious research centers and mobility in Europe. More information at

The European Research Council offers ERC starting independent researcher grants and ERC advanced investigator grants to top-researchers from all over the world. More information at

- Horizon 2020 is a EU framework programme for research and innovation. More information at

=> RD-USA Research Technology

It is the first complete private nanofabrication facility estabilished in Mexico. It offers wide variety of services in the field of nanotechnology and molecular medicine research. Contacts: [email protected], [email protected]





Scientific Writing as Career Option

This year the MRS organized the first Science Writing Workshop (at the first day of congress). Scientific Writing is becoming each year more popular as an alternative career for PhD. Science writers are devoted to the general public's understanding of science and technology. They can work as science journalists, as public relations of institutes/universities, as textbooks writers, as grant managers or as technical manuals writers.

Since I really love writing and wrote already some book chapters and short articles for journals about science, I was really excited to get some training in science writing. My training in writing was only in workshops of literature. In this one day workshop organized by MRS, the attendees learnt How to Tell a Story and How to Conduct an Interview. Initially Aditi Risbud (assistant professor at the University of Utah) summarized us some writing opportunities. Later, Judy Meiksin (Materials Research Society Managing Editor) taught us about the key elements of story telling before we did critique of writing samples. It was quite intresting our critique since even a small play was done and we might have found some potential actors among scientists!

Science writer

Science Writing Workshop during a break.

In the second part of the workshop we learnt about The Art of Interviewing with Emily Lewis (Materials360 Online interviewer), before doing a group interview to Markus Buehler (MIT). His passion for bio-inspired themes is evident when he talks about this original work of combining music and science trough computational modelling of fiber spinning of spider silk. However, it was quite puzzling how it was possible to combine these two fields and certainly a second interviewee (the musician that extracted sounds from the models) would have helped us to understand this process. To finish the workshop we did an interview critique and a practice.

It was such a great and inspirational workshop for everyone that even one of our colleagues, Dirk Wouters, created a special sketch note (image below) that he kindly shared with me so that I could post for all of you here. I loved it, great job and thanks for sharing it!

Image dirk

Special sketch note by Dirk Wouters to ilustrate our Science Writing Workshop.

A special thank you for our instructors Aditi Risbud, Judy Meiksin and Emily Lewis, as well as the sponsors of this workshop NISE, NSF and Materials Research Society Foundation. I am looking forward to participate in more workshops like that!

Thank you also to Tim Palucka for this opportunity to blog the MRS 2013 Fall Meeting - it has been a great experience!

For those that have interest to volunteer with scientific writing: contact Tim Palucka (MRS Science News Editor).



#f13MRS Blogging: Conclusions and Future Work

This is going to be my last post for the week. Let me say, I had a blast. There was a lot of stuff going on this week and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experiences with you guys. 

This week, I was able to accomplish just about everything I set out to do: I met new people, I had some great conversations, I learned new things, and I got to see people I have not seen in a while. Through using the #f13MRS hashtag, I was able to find more people to follow on twitter, and I hope we can continue our discussions in between meetings. 

As far as plans for the future, I hope that I can ride this blogging wave and start posting more regularly to my own blog. MRS provides a lot of fuel for blogging, so I think it will take a little more effort to keep this going after this week. 

In honor of the approaching winter, and an acknowledgement of the lighter sides of MRS. I want to leave you with my favorite tweet of the week by @weemadandrew.

what is in your MRS goodie bag?

Upon registration, MRS gave each attendee a nice black bag where you can fit quite a lot of small items such as your program guide, business cards, pens and etc.

At the exhibition, exhibitors mostly prepared some souvenirs (ie. graphene kits), candies, and sometimes raffle tickets for free ipads (Science Open Ipad winner).

In my goodie bag, I had the following items. What did you have in your goodie bag? Anything interesting?

PS. There were FREE wine and beer right at the exhibition site before poster session in the evenings.


#f13MRS Blogging: Results and Discussions

As this fall's MRS meeting winds down, I just wanted to take a look back at some of the things we did as bloggers/tweeters over the last week. It was great to see the variety of posts. MRS is such a large meeting, that between symposiums and exhibits and other special events, it is hard to keep track of it all. We may not have covered everything, but we got a lot of it.

The most popular topic (both in requests via twitter, and posts/comments on the blog) was the Science as Art exhibit. Both Gloria and I posted on the blog, the different pictures tweeted out got a ton of "re-tweets" (for the twitter newbies, that is like forwarding someone else's tweet to your followers). Clearly, art and materials visualization strike a chord with our audience. In hind sight, I should have taken more pictures.

Unfortunately, it was hard to get a sustained discussion in the comments. With everything in the conference moving so fast, old posts tend to get buried very quickly. Also, I am sure there are "lurkers" who will read but not comment. I think it would be really cool to see some of the analytics of the blog and figure out what people were reading.

Finally, I want to apologize for a major oversight on my part...the MRS Fall 13 app. I was a real late adopter to this and missed an opportunity to connect with that. It seemed to have a lot of features, including a check in function. My only complaint is that the talks would disapear from the check in app before some of the talks started. Not everything runs on time at these meetings, so the app should be a little more flexible.

Overall, I would count this meeting and the blog as a success! How do you guys feel about what transpired over this last week?

Poster awards

At this year's MRS, poster sessions were held for 4 days (from Monday to Thursday, Dec 2-5). On each day, posters were showcased 3 hours for judges and another 3 hours for attendees.

The posters were submitted to all symposiums so attendees were blessed to learn from research posters with excellent depth and breadth.

In addition to oral presentations, posters are another great way to deliver one's research to other scientists and I often find it very useful to present my work in posters because I can have more intimate interactions with the audience and get a lot valuable feedback for future studies.

To recognize best posters of each session, MRS selected the following students best poster winners of 2013 Fall Meeting for their posters. Congratulations to all!

It is a motor!

This demo has been sitting in my pocket from the QQ sessions earlier this week. Chris Chiaverina gave out the kit of a battery, nail, magnet and a wire so we could make our own motors! Putting it together is a little tough, but it is pretty neat when you get it to work. 

Here are some pictures of how it is put together.

Motor Parts

Parts of the motor. (It is tough to get the magnet to sit still)

Magnet with nail

Attach the magnet to the head of the nail. The only way I could get it to work was with this nail-magnet geometry.

Magnet with nail and battery

If you bring the battery close to the nail with the magnet, you can pick it up.


Completed motor

The completed motor! I couldn't get it stable enough to hold the motor and video it, so you will have to use your imagination. 

I made a Vine video of me putting it together.



MRS Chapters Networking

Dear MRS 2013 Fall Meeting Blog Readers,

This year it was an important year for MRS-UTDallas members since we just started few months ago as a new chapter. And I found great the opportunities that the MRS organizers gave us to interact with other officer chapter members. There are two main events for that: the special gathering at President's Suite (Meet MRS leaders, Meeting Chairs and Plenary Speaker) and the MRS Student Chapter Representative Luncheon. As the president of the MRS-UTDallas chapter, I got the opportunity to attend all these events (on December 2nd and December 4th, respectively) and I thought some of you would like to know what does it happen there.

The special gathering (picture below) occurs just before the Plenary Seminar, moment at which the representatives of the new chapters are called on stage to receive the recognition of a newly inducted MRS University Chapter. The gathering was really great for networking and I exchange cards with all student chapters members that were there. It was quite informal, like a reception party. Also MRS leaders were there and we got the opportunity to talk with them.


Special gathering for networking: MRS chapter officers interacting with other chapters and MRS leaders.


The MRS Student Chapter Representative Luncheon (picture below) is a more formal event coordinated by Lorri Smiley and Yuri Gogotsi. This year chapter representatives from US, Germany and Mexico were represented. The agenda of the event included: MRS welcomes the new MRS Univeristy chapters, presentation of due dates for reports and opportunities of fundings, MRS chapters representatives mentioned the best practices of activities from their respective chapters and a T-shirt contest. 



Chapter luncheon

MRS Student Chapter Representative Luncheon, left to right: Orlando Auciello (MRS president and one of MRS-UTDallas chapter advisors), Mohammad Hassan (MRS-University of Alberta chapter), Erika Fuentes (MRS-UTDallas chapter Web Officer), Reginaldo Muccillo (SBPMat representant), Monica Jung de Andrade (MRS-UTDallas President) and Jonathan Reeder (MRS-UTDallas Secretary).


This MRS 2013 Fall meeting we had two international chapters in the T-shirt competition: Chapter from University of Cologne (MRS-EMRS Joint Chapter) and CINVESTAV (MRS-Sociedad Mexicana de Materiales Joint Chapter). And both of them were awarded with prize, together with the winning T-shirt from Boston University. This is an example on how diverse the MRS chapters are becoming. As stated from MRS President, "there is indeed an effort from MRS to start doing more joint chapters together with organizations from different countries, especially from Latin America".


Thank you again MRS for organizing these great opportunities for networking among MRS Student Chapter Representatives! A special thank you for the Academic Affairs Committee for their support on such activities. Networking is not about just connecting people, it is also building relationships to connect ideas and opportunities.