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/.

Presenting at My First National Conference in Microbial Signaling

Last week I attended a five-day Gorden Research Conference (GRC) in Ventura, California. GRCs (https://www.grc.org/) are small and prestigious scientific conferences that cover a broad spectrum of STEM disciplines. Three weeks before the conference, I received an invitation from the conference chair to give a 10-minute mini-talk. As the majority of the talks were given by faculties, I was very honored to be one of the 5 graduate students/pos-docs selected for mini-talks. I put a lot of time and efforts on my presentation slides and practiced once in front of my research advisor, once at our lab meeting, and probably 10 times in my hotel room in Ventura. Ten minutes is a very short time for a science presentation, especially to an audience that may not be familiar with your work. I wanted it to be an informative and well-organized one as well as demonstrate the high impact of my findings to the cell biology field. My talk went pretty well and I received a lot of compliments and most importantly some feedback, comments and even critics. One of the professor from Germany even offered me a post-doc position in her lab. Being able to communicate with my peers working in the same field and exchange ideas really helped me better design experiments to complete my project. I also got to know many outstanding professors and students personally from all over the world. It was a very positive experience for me and I would definitely encourage you to attend conferences and meetings to advance your knowledge and open up your horizon.

Here is a picture of a Pacific Gray Whale that we spotted on a whale watching tour between the Channel Islands and Ventura harbor, which was the second best thing that happened there.


A few weeks ago, my friend and I presented at the Men and Women of Color Leadership Conference hosted at IU. This conference was attended by many grads, undergraduates and professional staff members from across the country. The theme of this year’s conference was “War on Education: What Does it Mean for U.S?” My friend and I were intrigued by the topic and the opportunity to present at a conference during our graduate school experience. This conference inspired a number of my peers to take action and ownership over our experiences here at IU and our careers. We were encouraged to do whatever we could to get the experience that we wanted when we first entered IU. It gave us a renewed sense of purpose and comraderie among our peers. Want to learn more about the conference, check out the website: http://www.indiana.edu/~moc/


I recently attended a McNair conference and I was impressed with how much work the McNair Scholars put into their research endeavors. As I spent time sitting in on presentations and reviewing poster sessions, also encouraging students to consider Indiana University for graduate studies, I immediately thought to myself that these students in attendance are the future of academia. When considering the present state of affairs in relation to retention and recruitment of underrepresented student populations, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as faculty of color in higher education, programs particularly such as McMair play a significant role in diversifying the academy. The early access to career and professional development was clearly evident in the quality of work presented by students.




Conference Travel Checklist

  • Poster in poster tube if you will present a poster (note: this counts as a carry on)
  • USB where your talk is stored if you are giving a talk
  • Address of your hotel and the conference venue
  • List of people you intend to introduce yourself to at the conference
  • List of economical restaurants near the conference venue
  • List of nice/expensive restaurants (for the one night you want to spoil yourself)
  • List of places nearby that you want to see. In case you have some time to tour the city.
  • One change of clothing for each conference day. Sometimes you can recycle some clothing (a pair of pants or a sports coat). Packing light is key! One extra change is ok, just in case, and maybe an extra pair of comfy shoes (because you will be walking a lot)
  • Granola bars (to keep you going through the long days)
  • Water bottle (to keep hydrated)
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger to contact colleagues for lunch/dinner plans (I always forget my charger!)

Wrapping up

Things are getting pretty busy these days. I am attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) convention in New Orleans this weekend with one of my faculty members. We are presenting two sessions. The first paper examines how students of color perceive diversity at a predominantly White institution and the other explores how students create and maintain interpersonal relationships in college. These projects coincide with my research interests which examines student development in higher education. After I get back from the AERA conference, I plan to wrap up some projects at my assistantship, grade final papers, and work on final papers. Although these next few weeks are busy, I will find time to enjoy the weather. Bloomington is a nice place to visit in the spring and summer and I look forward to enjoying the city more once things slow down over the next few weeks.

Herman Hudson Symposium

I attended the eighth annual Herman C. Hudson symposium a few weeks ago and wanted to briefly discuss my experience. Although I attend many national conferences, I enjoy taking advantage of educational opportunities on the IU campus. Each year, the Graduate Society of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies brings together scholars, community activists, scholars, and other professionals to interrogate definitions of, theorize about, and imagine new possibilities for the African Diaspora. I attended a session examining Black masculinity, sexual transmitted infections, and hip-hop/street culture. For more information about the Herman C. Hudson symposium, please visit the African American and African Diaspora Studies at www.indiana.edu/~afroamer