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.

Schedule A Campus Visit.

I highly recommend that you do visit your potential graduate school institution, it is a smart decision. Simple put, a visit can go a long way in your own personal ranking of a program.

When you schedule a visit: 1) be sure to take a tour around campus, 2) meet with faculty in your intended program, 3) come prepared to ask questions and seek out opportunities to meet with current graduate students, 4) keep in mind what the cost of living will likely be, and 5) do as much research ahead of time to give you a head start & also make time to have some fun on your trip.







Thank your letter writers!

Don’t forget to thank the people that wrote your letters of recommendation. These faculty members took time out of their very busy lives to write letters for you, and they deserve at least a thank you in return. Send them a thank you note, or stop by their office to say thank you in person. This not only shows that you are truly grateful for their effort, but it gives off a very good impression.

Also, stay in touch with these individuals. In the spring, let them know which schools you got in; when you go off to grad school, drop them a line every once in a while to let them know how you are doing. You might need to request their help again at some point in the future, and they are more likely to help if you have kept in touch with them.

Graduate School Applications.

Here are some hints to consider, there are definitely more—but this is a start.


Be as specific and to the point as possible in terms of research direction and faculty you are interested in working with. Note how your experience or training can contribute to research currently being conducted or potential research that may be conducted once you arrive.

Submit a completed application as soon as possible, meeting the application deadline. Keep records, a file of every school you apply to.

Ask plenty of questions while preparing, during, and even after the application process. Know all your potential funding sources and how to access them.

Be assertive and do your research on schools and locations. Explore your options by gathering as much information about each school as possible and make a campus visit.



Expect opportunities to simply present themselves.

Submit anything without having made sure you have copies of the particular application component.



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.




Faculty Mentor(s).

An honest approach to seeking out a faculty mentor is to consider the impact of having several faculty mentors. I am currently in the process of forming my dissertation committee and so I see how this can be applied in a practical manner. My advisor recently alluded to this in that accessing critical feedback and understanding its worth will enhance my training as a future faculty member. Keep in mind a critical key to developing into a well-rounded scholar and a professional is actively engaging in opportunities to form meaningful connections with your colleagues and faculty alike.

For a great follow-up and a little bit of inspiration you should check out the featured articles on the concept of having confidence in your individual abilities and their relation to accessing invaluable support in graduate school. Enjoy!


Article Source: http://sacnas.org/about/stories/sacnas-news

Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science



DEMA Fall Reception

What’s up bloggers? It’s that time again. You may be asking yourself the question: “Time for what J.T.?” Well I’m glad you asked. It is time for my FREE TIP OF THE DAY. And today’s tip is sponsored by… The Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs or DEMA for short.

This past Wednesday I attended a Fall Reception hosted by DEMA in IU Art Museum, and it was PHENOMENAL! It was great to be surrounded by such a diverse group of scholars (students, faculty and staff). It also helped that they served delicious foods and beverages all for free. I was able to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones. Conveniently I also ran into a former emissary, and the FREE TIP OF THE DAY  comes from her. Check out the video below…


BGSA Kickoff Event*

Hello blogosphere! I’m back with a quick post. This year I am serving as President of the Black Graduate Student Association, an organization focused on the social, educational, and political uplift of Black students (and allies) at Indiana University. We had our kick off event a couple weeks ago and I wanted to share a few photos from the event. Enjoy!


PS – FREE TIP OF THE DAY is take a deep breath… relax… and have fun! You only live once =)

*This entry has been back dated. The first post was the entry titled “Only a month late”

Networking for survival

Starting graduate school is a little like being thrown head first into a rushing current and not knowing which way to swim – all the new information, new people, and new questions can quickly become overwhelming. For a little while, you might feel like you’re struggling to keep your head afloat – but don’t worry! Things will get easier with time. In his previous post Tony mentioned networking, and I’d like to continue from there with some valuable tips that I have learned since starting grad school three years ago. Networking can expand your opportunities out there in the wide world of academia, but it can also be an enormous help close to home in your own department. If you haven’t met them yet, here are three groups of people who can help you make sense out of your first weeks of school:

  1. Senior Grad Students – They’ve been in your place before, and they’ve learned lots of tips and strategies in their years in your department. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – go to them with questions on classes, how many credits you should be taking, program requirements, where to eat – all of it!
  2. The Office Staff – These people keep your department running, and they are great people to know. I go to my department’s staff with all those technical questions (like “How many credits do I need to take my qualifying exams?” or “Do language credits count towards my degree?”). Being friendly with the staff has made my grad life much more pleasant.

    Anthropology staff

    Department staff might seem menacing... but they are actually great friends to have. (Left to right: Agatha Wong, Linda Barchet, and Susie Bernhardt of the Anthropology Department)

  3. Your Advising Professors – This one might seem obvious, but checking in regularly with your advisor(s) will keep you on track. They can help keep you aware of deadlines and opportunities, but they can also give you the reassurance that you are doing just fine and banish the “imposter syndrome” doubts you might have.
Networking with these three groups will help you academically, but it will also help you feel like you are a part of the grad student community. And that’s important!