And That's a Wrap from MRS Fall 2023!

As I woke up today, the day after the MRS Fall 2023, I felt a sense of sadness that I don't have to get ready today and grab my coffee to go to the Hynes convention center to listen to some of the most influential people in the materials field. MRS meetings, though established as one of the most renowned conferences in the materials field, is not just a conference, its a family, a family that takes care of each other and supports them in their endeavors. 

On the day0/ day1 of the conference, I felt this sense of happiness and excitement among the fellow materials researchers, connecting with their previous colleagues and mentors and mentees. This goes on to show how tightly our community is connected and how just saying 'hi' to someone unknown at MRS could go a long way and potentially branch out to connect you to your next opportunity! 

As the first time attendee of the conference, connecting with people who hold a career trajectory closer to what I project mine, it was exciting to see how my future is going to look like. The large scale conferences like MRS Fall Meeting are not only great for intellectual simulation but also are a great place of networking and finding that motivation to not get twisted in the current day-to-day affairs and seek the big picture in our own lives. 

With that, I will try to share some more tips and tricks for the future attendees in some coming days. For everyone who made this MRS Fall special, thank you!

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Approaching the Finish Line

We have been blessed with a lovely and mild day, here in Boston. It is sad but I suppose good times must always come to an end; it is the last day of the conference. That said, I am very happy to see so many people show up for talks and take part in asking questions and discussions. 

Throughout the course of the conference, I got to meet many people and learn about their work which, in turn, inspired the next directions to mine. I had never been to such a large international  conference before and truth be told, I am not even sure if I was able to make the most of it but I am happy knowing that I tried my best and learnt the ways of big conferences. I am grateful to everyone that I spoke with at the exhibitions who were so lovely to talk to and taught me so much on career paths and gave ideas on what I can look to do after my PhD. 

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience and it would not have been possible without the people who organized everything behind the scenes, the catering staffs, and of course to Judy who gave me this opportunity to account and blog about my experiences. A huge thank you to everyone! 

Fun Post-Conference Activities!

Since it is my first time in Boston, bunch of my friends and previous colleagues are very excited to show me their favorite cafes and food places around the town. One of my good friends who works for Boston Dynamics across the bridge invited me to his workplace, and I got to see and drive the famous Quadruped robot! I truly have to admit, engineering rocks!

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Solar Cells and Beautiful Tea

Do you work with solar cells and want to know what instruments that are out there that can assist you in your research? Then get in touch with the super nice people from ENLITECH who greet you with a set of teapot and tea cups with a classic, fragrant oolong from Taiwan, where the company is based. 

They are more than happy to talk with you and get you in contact with other groups who work in the same field to discuss the use of these instruments. Even though our group did not necessarily work with solar cells, we will definitely bring the word back to Edinburgh with us along with the nice pineapple cakes, bubble tea kit, and pleasant memories we made with them at the exhibition stall today. 

Solar cell and tea

Stretching vs twisting, which is superior?

As researchers in the field of barocaloric materials, it may come as no surprise that our group attended the "EN01.11: Energy Materials for Water and Heat Management" Symposium and watched the "Modeling and Optimizing Temperature-Dependent Elastocaloric Effects in Elastic Olefin Block Copolymer Fibers" talk by You Lyu a graduate student who presented his work from his visit to MIT. 

It was very cool, about his mixed experimental and theoretical approach to determine the efficiency and longetivity of his polymer as used for solid-state refrigerants. It was a comparison between the elastocaloric effect and his coined "twisto" caloric effect which was really interesting especially since not a lot of us have heard of this variation before.

50th Anniversary Celebration

We attended the MRS 50th Anniversary celebration last night which was a fun-packed event consisting of delicious small bites, generous booze, and of course many new connections on LinkedIn. 

It was very enjoyable after a full day of talks and walking around the exhibitions to get to wind down while recounting the events of that day and talk about the different sessions that people went to. It was a super enjoyable time and even though I got to meet a lot of people, it also allowed me to 20231126_125111 reflect on the fact that I am glad to have my group to come to this conference with me. 

Proud Mum Vibes

If you have been following me on X (or Twitter or whatever you want to call it), you may know that we had two talks today from our group. One from Dr Joshua Levinsky, our post doc and the other from Phillipa (Philly) Partridge, our 3rd year PhD, the first of the Hobday Group. 

Even though I definitely do not want children, I can understand the feeling of pride and happiness as I watched them progress from making slides, stressing beforehand, and finally, presenting. Both were so professional and spoke so clearly. As we are from the same group, there were similarities from the background theory and some techniques but the different ways in which these points were delivered reflected their personalities well, which resulted in fun and informative sessions. They will always be inspirational to me and my research in many ways. 

All in all, a huge well done to you both. Making all of us in the Hobday Group proud!

(Looking forward to some celebratory drinks later) 

Free Morning Tea/Coffee?

Today is day 4 of the MRS and I am ashamed to find out that I could have had free teas and coffees every morning at my hotel because we are part of the MRS. It seems that if you stay at any of the hotel chains that are in partnership with the MRS conference there is a high chance that there is a tea and coffee area in your Hotel with a sign saying for "Materials Research Society guests only".  As a Brit at heart I would also prefer some buttery biscuits with my tea but the almond croissants from the nearby coffee shops are also a vibe! 

Waste no time waiting for a coffee at Starbucks tomorrow, find your nearest free coffee! 

A Fancy Camera

One of the cool stands from the exhibition that stood out for me was the NIREOS which had a big monitor and camera (HERA) sitting on the desk. They showed that the camera was able to capture a lot more colors than the conventional to the point where each pixel in an image can be associated with a spectrum which shows the color composition of that specific pixel making it easier to detect contrast or quantize the amount of fluorescence on a material. 

Side note, they also have cool freebies like a fancy pen and a bottle opener on a key ring for every occasion!


Career's Fair

Are you looking for the next step to your career? Not sure what options are available to you? Or do you just want some snacks and some freebies?

If yes or maybe to any or all of the above then pop along to the MRS Careers Fair at the Exhibition Hall at Hynes Convention Centre. I was definitely the latter of the three but that hall was filled with such lovely people who cheers you on when you're playing the jigsaw game, offer you candy and refreshments, and most importantly, are more than happy to just chat with you about anything and everything. 

What I enjoyed most was finding out the background of the people who worked there and the kind of academic or industrial journey they took to get there. Even though I hadn't put much thought into it, the idea of doing a post-doc doesn't sound too bad right now.