Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me

from blog.k12.com

from blog.k12.com

At the beginning of every semester in the social psych area, we set up the schedule for our area colloquium. Once we cover who all the outside speakers are, and when they’ll be coming, there’s the critical moment where the faculty member in charge says, “which graduate students would like to present?” There’s always the awkward moment (or few moments) of looking around, avoiding everyone’s glances, and then eventually enough people sign up. What’s funny is that this same scene plays out every semester! It’s nerve-wracking to get up in front of all the faculty and graduate students in the area and talk about your own research for an hour (or longer…), but it’s a great opportunity to practice presentation style and skills, as well as the best way to communicate the novelty and excitement of your own research to others.

So, if you have a chance to present at anything, a conference poster session, an IU research symposium, or your departmental colloquium, rip off the Band-Aid (so to speak) and volunteer yourself. You may be nervous, but if you prepare for it ahead of time, you’ll be just fine!

Graduate Student Emissaries at Work

Along with blogging, giving student tours and being successful Graduate Students the Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity also give presentations. Three emissaries gave a presentation on “graduate school preparedness” at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program LEAD Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Bloomington Convention Center.

Carl D., Zelideh M-H., and Alfonse P presented two workshops on “Graduate School Preparedness” at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program LEAD Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Bloomington Convention Center.

~ Photo taken by David N.

Future Faculty Conference

This past week I attended a future faculty conference at Virginia Tech. It was lots of fun. I got to meet other grad students and post docs from around the nation. I figured I share the pictures with you all. Check it out! If you are able to participate in future faculty programs I’d strongly encourage it, IU has one in the spring click here for more info.

Faculty mentors are critical to success in grad school

Mentorship is important to being successful in all that we do.  It is no different in graduate school.  It is important to find good and compatible faculty mentors to help you succeed and progress through graduate school.  I have been very fortunate.  Both of my mentors have been very involved in my academic work and development to enter the professoriate.  I have been able to collaborate on scholarly research with my professors, and I have been introduced to academic and scholarly conferences through them also.  While attending a conference where I presented, my professor was very gracious to introduce me to other colleagues, get me involved in the association’s activities, and she helped me feel welcome. These activities and opportunities have helped me get closer to the professoriate, and I attribute it to my faculty mentors!

Conferences in One’s Minor

What often comes to mind when the topic of conferences come up?  Preparing an abstract/paper/poster to present in one’s major and figuring out how to pay for the trip are two common item.  Well, when I was in undergrad, I did something a little different:  I attended several conferences in my minor, Computer Science.

In my last year of undergrad, I became part of an all-female CS research group funded by a CREU (Computing Research Experience for Undergraduates) grant.  Looong story how I got involved.  The grant required that members of the group present their research at least two computing conferences.  I wound up going to three.  Let’s focus on the last one, Grace Hopper’s Women in Computing.

At this point in time, everyone in the research group had graduated.  Robyn was in the midst of job training, Jaelle had begun her position as tech liaison, and I started grad school two months prior.  Robyn was unable to go, but Jaelle and I were able to meet up again in Atlanta, Georgia.  And guess what?  We both encountered women in physics or involved in physics-related projects at this computing conference.  Computing and physics often go hand-in-hand and that was understood here.  Unlike the undergraduate career fair in SD, which catered to engineers only and didn’t know what to do with a physics student, the recruiters here looked at physics students with a serious interest.

So go ahead.  Go to a conference in your minor.  You’ll never know what you’ll find.

Recruiting while at academic conferences

As a alumnus and current student of Indiana University, I represent the university and the schools that I am affiliated with everyday and every interaction I have with others. Indiana University is a world-renowned institution that attracts quality and diverse scholars to study and research.

This semester, I plan to attend and present at two scholarly conferences: the Indiana Student Affairs Association Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Education Law Association Annual Conference held in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  I will be presenting about the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas – Austin when the Justices will hear oral arguments in October.  Their decision in this case can change how universities and their admissions offices consider race and ethnicity as diversity in their admissions decisions, and thus, impact the make-up of our student body and the quality of our higher education.

      

While at these conferences, my interactions with fellow colleagues and prospective students will be to introduce them to Indiana University.  IU is a place that embraces diverse research and viewpoints.  As such, I am proud to be representing IU and continually recruit and introduce others to IU.

Recruiting at academic conferences isn’t akin to sales.  I am not there to pitch a sales message, but I am there to build life-long relationships, friendships, and academic camaraderie.  The name of the game isn’t competition, but collaboration.

Welcome to IU!  I look forward to meeting you and showing you how IU can help you succeed in your academic career.

A look back at the 3rd Annual International Particle Accelerator Conference

In the late spring of 2012, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending an annual international conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana. The International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC) was established in 2010 to join together the world’s largest organizations working on topics pertaining to particle accelerator technologies and applications. Among them includes CERN, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, IEEE, and countless national laboratories, physical societies, and accelerator facilities around the globe.

Conference poster for the 3rd annual International Particle Accelerator Conference held in New Orleans, LA, USA.

It was here that I was given the opportunity to showcase my research as well as get acquainted to the research of fellow scientists in the field. There were over 2000 participants in all. I ran into old professors and advisers, friends, and colleagues I met along the journey. I presented on the compact radio frequency accelerating structure that I built at the Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter (message me if you are interested in reading the paper). To the best of my knowledge, it the the most compact accelerating structure of its kind in current literature. Overall is the wonderful, humbling, and empowering experience for a young scholar. On the flight back to Indiana, still buzzing with excitement, all I can think of how I can keep pushing and contribute further to the accelerator physics community. I hope you’ll one day get to experience the same.

The Ernest N. Morial Conference Center setting up for IPAC 2012. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

Both researchers and vendors prepare their booths for IPAC 2012. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

The conference’s opening ceremony. Somewhere in the crowd I am sitting, absorbing the experience. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

The conference included both oral presentations and poster sessions. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

There is a coffee break between every scheduled session. This is where we grab a pick-me-up and chat. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

The billboards to the left are for research posters that rotates between specialized topics for every given day. Researchers, including myself, typically stand by their poster to answer questions. All conference proceedings must be be accompanied by a journal quality 3-page report. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

All the big vendors like Agilent and Tektronix were there to showcase their latest and greatest gadgets. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

In copper, a beautifully machined radio frequency quadrupole structure. And in Niobium, encased in glass, sits a superconducting radio frequency structure. Photo by Alfonse N. Pham.

It is conference tradition to pass on the ceremonial bell to each successive conference chair. The chairperson for this year’s conference is Victor Suller, the associate director of the CAMD facility at LSU. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

Victor would chime the bell giving the participants a 5-minute warning that the next session is about to commence. It was hilariously like herding cows. Photo by Victor G. Ramirez.

“Networking” with some fellow colleagues on Bourbon St. Photo by Alfonse N. Pham.

And oh, did I mention seafood? Cajan spiced deep-fried oysters with blue cheese. Photo by Cara S. Maffini.

Seafood! Soft-shell crab eggs benedict. Photo by Alfonse N. Pham.

SEAFOOD!!! In retrospect though, all-you-can-eat crawfish wasn’t a great idea after a long night of “networking.”

No NOLA trip is complete without a visit to the Cafe Du Monde. Photo by Alfonse N. Pham.

Iced coffee and sugar-coated beignets. Photo by Alfonse N. Pham.

Latino Film Festival and Conference

Currently, our very own IU is hosting its first ever Latino Film Festival and Conference. This event has brought together national scholars and film makers, to discuss the themes and issues within Latino cinema. The event began yesterday evening with a screening of Sleep Dealer, followed by a Q&A by the director, Alex Rivera. Several discussion panels were organized for today and tomorrow, along with more awesome film screenings, including Blacktino (director Aaron Burns), Gun Hill Road (director Rashaad Ernesto Green) and some classics, like Zoot Suit (Director Luis Valdez). This event is a depiction of the dedication by IU and the people and organizations within it to promote the diversity of perspectives and enrichment of life in Bloomington. And best of all, it’s completely FREE!!! Hats off to the IU Cinema and organizers of the event (for a list of the organizers, and more info, visit the website).

Ever traveled to Canada?

I know Canada doesn’t sound too exotic, right? I was recently in Vancouver, Canada attending the Society for Research on Adolescence’s Biennial Meeting. This was the conference’s 14th gathering to date and the first time it was held outside of the United States. I attended in part, because I was selected as a 2012 Junior Mentor–an honor that pairs current doctoral students with selected  talented underrepresented undergraduate students whom are about to transition into graduate studies. As a Junior Mentor, I attended  an all day pre-conference, served on a panel having to do with graduate school funding, and I primarily spent my time mentoring and networking. Overall, participating in this program was the highlight of my trip.

Although I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest–this was my first time visiting Vancouver, Canada. I will admit, Vancouver, Canada is a beautiful place. My trip was a reminder that when I complete my Ph.D. program, I would love the opportunity to find a faculty or university position in my home region.

Reporting from the 2012 AAAS General Meeting

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the largest general scientific society in the world and is the organization that publishes one of the most reputable scientific journals – Science Magazine, with an impact factor of 31.36 in 2011. The 2012 AAAS General Meeting is being held from February 16 to 20 in Vancouver, Canada. The meeting covers a broad spectrum of topics ranging from climate change to renewable energy, from gene therapy to biodiversity, and from food safety to scientific communications. Here I want to highlight some of programs at the meeting that I found very inspiring:

  1. Student session aids. Undergraduate and graduate students can sign up to serve as session aids and get free registration. Each session aid is assigned 2-5 sessions with a total of ~7.5 hours of work load. The duties include time keeping, loading speaker’s presentation, getting tech support when there is technical problems with audio or video, etc.
  2. President’s address. The current President of AAAS  Dr. Nina Fedoroff gave an extraordinary overview of her scientific career path. She managed to complete undergraduate education as a teen mom and got inspired by Barbara McClintock (who was later awarded a Nobel Prize) during her graduate years and eventually grew into a leader scientist serving as a Professor at multiple institutions as well as the National Science Board of the US.
  3. Career Development Workshops. I attended one of the workshops entitled “Sharing Science: Presenting Yourself and Your Work”. During this 90-minute-long interactive workshop, exercises and instructions were given on how to convey your research to a general audience in 90 seconds in plain language. Attendees worked in groups to  practice and critique on one other’s mini-speech and were encouraged to practice talking about it at home until you make it simple enough that your grandma would understand it.
  4. Family Science Days. Over the weekend, families with children of all ages have the opportunity to come to the meeting and learn everyday science through different interactive demonstrations provided by various public outreach programs and organizations. The exhibition hall has been packed with eager kids and their parents who learn together with their children.

    A scientist showing a girl how solar panel powers a wind mill.

I’ve been going to seminars that are not only related to my graduate research, but also those that cover topics in education, healthcare, medicine, and energy. I have been learning so much about different disciplines in Science and the different approaches the scholars take to make our earth a better place. I was also able to get to know some great human beings who not only do great science, but also promote human well-being through collaborative efforts. (If you are intersted, Google these names: )Hans Rosling, Mike Lazaridis, Michael Hayden, just to name a few) It has been a great conference and I’m going to enjoy the rest of it!

For more news on the 2012 AAAS General Meeting, visit http://www.aaas.org/.