Previous month:
May 2022
Next month:
December 2022

November 2022

Guidance: It's importance

Today, I met with one of the professors I admire for their work in mechanics, thanks to the physical meeting in MRS Fall 2022 for this opportunity. I've been following his work for quite a long time. We sat for a discussion regarding my work for around 2 hours or more. I was pretty transparent and detailed with him regarding my work. This provided me with a lot of insights and some more understanding. Here are a few key takeaways for every researcher which I think are important.

1.  External expert opinion is essential and might add more value to your work.

2. Some details you might miss, but experts can catch. (It helps, trust me).

3. There can be an easy way to a solution than you thought to be and it comes with experience

4.  Detailed and in-depth discussion helps clear a lot of doubts. (I was lucky because he had a lot of patience)

5. Multiple reasons for the hypothesis to be true (listen carefully)

6. Accept, adapt and learn  (it helps)

7. Communicate and ask. Share your thoughts. It boosts discussion and is insightful.

8. Last but not the least, be honest with your work and details. It helps be the better version of you. 


P.S: Don't miss such opportunities in the big conferences like the MRS.

Competition: A healthy way of distinction?

IMG_8756 300 mI've been attending the MRS poster session every day. Among around 500 posters, a few posters are chosen for the best poster awards. Seeing this, I came up with a question: Is it an excellent way to separate the best posters based on certain criteria from the rest? In fact, this is the case in general for our everyday lives; starting from footwear to healthcare, we have certain criteria from which we decide what's best, which can vary from person to person. So, in general, is it the right way of distinction or just some conditional and perspective thing? even though a group of people might be involved in decision-making.

To answer this, at least from my point of view, there has to be a way of encouragement. And this best poster award in the MRS Fall 2022 exactly did that for the winners. A group of experts are likely to make the right decision. However, this does not mean that others who did not win are bad. What it means is what you interpret. I would say that for the rest, it's a way to get better and a chance to improve before something bigger than this. There are a lot of examples of people who failed initially but later succeeded is well recorded (hint: tech giants). 

In conclusion, it's a matter of what you interpret. It's definitely not a smarter way for distinction, but it's not the final distinction either. So, a wise person would know the takeaway and utilise it for self-development. That's the learning curve.

P.S: Welcome to MRS! A platform to grow and learn. 

Vendor Exhibit Hall Shopping

It's afternoon at a conference and your mind wanders to the huge display of shiny, new equipment that's being exhibited at the Vendor Exhibit Hall... you think of the week you invented a new screw in order to fix a machine that you badly needed for your experiments. But in this Exhibit Hall, you saw a whole machine, screwless, sitting peacefully on a table. 


You enter the Exhibit Hall again to check out the machine's price tag, but then get sidetracked by the iridescence of a table full of none other than tweezers. They tell you: there are thousands of models. Suddenly, you can barely stand.

It might have been Black Friday last week, but this is the real deal. Except for the savings. Things displayed here are measured in thousands of dollars, but the vendors don't even bother saying the "k" after the number on the price tag. You're supposed to know.

So you keep browsing. Machines upon machines upon machines. It's like Home Depot for scientists.

Maybe next year you'll have enough grant money to purchase the screwless fluorescent tape measurer. For now, it'll have to settle as your dream catalogue to mentally browse during sessions.


Music (from materials scientists) for your ears

Researchers spend a lot of time in the lab or writing - a lot of time with ears open to listening to some bops.

What are people at MRS listening to? Here's a sampling of artists that MRS participants responded about and recommend:

  • london elektricity 
  • fox stevenson 
  • pendulum 
  • chase & status
  • andy c
  • wilkinson
  • infected mushroom 
  • craig david (uk car park sounds)
  • rich brian
  • childish gambino
  • video game soundtracks (legend of zelda)
  • beethoven 
  • hans zimmer 
  • esp man of steel
  • frozen soundtrack
  • the killers 
  • queen of disaster - sir lofi 
  • qatar airways boarding music ("the 2022 version was pretty great") 


Birds, bacteria, (water) bears, oh my....

Nature is a treasure trove of inspiration for designing materials, with organisms possessing a wide expanse of dazzling properties, appearances, and functionalities. Most of the talks in today's SB08 session each revolved around studying a different natural organism. Here are some from today and other fascinating organisms in general to stoke your imagination / derive your own inspiration:

  • Birds (of all brilliant colors, especially for studying structural color)
  • Octopi (for mechanical properties, shape-changing, color-changing, the list goes on)
  • Algae
  • Newts (tissue regeneration)
  • Leaves (surfaces)
  • Sharks (skin, anti-fouling)
  • Whales (fins)
  • Tardigrades (aka "water bears" and imaged below - just read about them, you won't be disappointed)



Using Improv for Science Communication

Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel talks to MRS TV about the “Using Improv for Science Communication” event at the 2022 MRS Fall Meeting. In this fun, interactive session, science communication professionals lead improvisation exercises and games to help participants gain confidence and positive communication skills. Participants then explore how they can use these skills to effectively present their science to the public during outreach events.


Admitting I like when professors like my Tweets

Social media (and especially Twitter) has come to play a unique role for some research and academic communities. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea for sharing research or engaging with communities, with pros and cons for its use. But particular Twitter engagements this year at MRS have been cool for me to experience personally! I often wonder how the outside world perceives my clicks and interactions online, so I thought I’d share some observations for anyone wondering about certain ways of engaging on Twitter at conferences. 

  • Getting likes on Tweets from senior researchers - as a younger Ph.D. student, having other members of the research community like my Tweets about attending a conference this large can make it more approachable! 
  • Actually, I’ve learned about some professors’ work through Twitter after clicking on their profiles after they like my Tweets. @Professors - I’ve personally talked to a good number of other Ph.D. students about learning about some professors through their online engagement. If you’re wondering, we do pay attention! 
  • Professors tweeting out the sessions that they’re speaking at - this has actually biased me to attend certain sessions if I’m debating between sessions (these schedules are packed to dig through)
  • Being able to tag other researchers at the conference and having the ability to amplify other people’s profiles to mutual connections 
  • Engaging with the hashtag to see what other people at the conference are up to! (Shameless plug for the #F22MRS and #MRSFall2022 hashtags for this conference)

Have other thoughts? Tweet your response (: 

Symposium CH03: Advanced Characterizations of Heterogeneities in Electrochemical Energy Storage Materials

Amy Marschilok, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Electrochemically Based and Coupled Characterization of Heterogeneity within Battery Electrodes and Interfaces

Written by Aashutosh Mistry

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the widely successful commercial technologies. However, we are continuously looking for new materials to make them better and potentially deploy them for new applications. Amy Marschilok and her colleagues have been examining an iron oxide material for lithium intercalation. Theoretically, it promises to substantially increase how much energy we can store for the same weight of these batteries. Additionally, iron is one of the most abundant materials, thus potentially lowering battery costs. The elegance of Marschilok’s study lies in the group’s finer control over the size of individual particles as well as their aggregation and electrode specifications. With such systematic changes in the electrode geometry combined with multiple theoretical and experimental techniques, the researchers find that both bulk phase transformations and multiple reactions at the particle-electrolyte contact combine differently to exhibit macroscopically dissimilar battery responses. Based on this understanding, the group shows that by varying liquid electrolyte composition, the bulk behavior of solid lithium-storing material can be appreciably altered.

Symposium NM05: Challenges and Opportunities in Solution Synthesis of Functional Nanomaterials

Yulan Chen, Cornell University

Magnetic soft actuators are an interesting material with potential applications in untethered soft robotics, minimally invasive interventions, and light control. These materials are typically soft with low remnant magnetizations. These materials are conventionally synthesized in the presence of a magnetic field which directs assembly but limits the yield because the synthesis can only be done in an area over which the field is applied. Therefore, a self-assembly where the alignment is achieved in the absence of an applied field is desirable. Yulan Chen presented her work on iron cobalt nanocubes that self-aligned into chains. She reported that both the saturation magnetization and overall volume of the particles determined the strength of the particles with each other. Stronger interactions were observed with larger particles and increased concentrations of particles improved the alignment. The direction of the self-assembly also depended on the size of the building blocks where smaller particles aligned face to face, increased sizes moved to edge-to-edge alignment, and increasing the size even further caused a more relaxed corner-to-corner alignment mode. Chen also considered factors such as rotation speed during the nanoparticle synthesis to determine its influence on the chain lengths and alignment. Overall, this talk highlighted an interesting strategy to produce nanochains without the need of an applied external magnetic field and demonstrated their potential for magnetic soft actuator applications.