The Foundry’s 2021 Annual User Meeting continued in its second day, starting off with an announcement of awards: Staff Service, Best Poster, and Best Student Research Paper. Principal Scientific Engineering Associate Ed Barnard was awarded this year’s staff service award, recognizing his above and beyond efforts supporting user science. Other nominees for this year’s award included: Michael Connolly, Ed Wong, Mike Elowson, and Chengyu Song. (Awardees from the previous three years were not eligible for this year’s award).
In the results from the poster competition, Xiaojing Xia from the University of Washington, and Daniel Durham and Samuel Gleason from the University of California, Berkeley, each won a poster award for their presentations during the Poster Slam and Poster Sessions on Day 1.
Finally, Adam Uliana from UC Berkeley was awarded the Best Student Research Paper Award for his paper on ion-capture electrodialysis membranes that can desalinate water and selectively capture target ions for remediation and recovery. Congratulations to all of the awardees!
Next up was a set of career panels, featuring speakers from academia, industry, national labs, and other science adjacent careers (full list of speakers here). Some highlights from each session:
Q: What drew you to Academia?
I hadn’t decided that [academia was what I wanted for a very long time, but I knew I wanted to have a PhD and engage in research. It wasn’t clear where I would do that research, so I kept an open mind. I had previously worked in industry before graduate school and did love it, but it showed me that I would prefer academia or a national lab … I really enjoyed every opportunity I had to mentor students, so that tipped the scales towards academia.Kwabena Bediako, UC Berkeley
Q: How can I get better at teaching?
There are programs at a lot of institutions where you can do some training, but otherwise, find out who the best instructors are at your institution (there are teaching awards, etc) And then you can go sit in on their class a few times to see how they approach their class, how they talk with their students. If you’re really excited about it, most academic fields do have education journals that describe things that people are trying out in their classrooms, and that’s how you can stay up to date with new trends. We all tend to model the classes that we’ve been in ourselves, but that traditional lecture model is not where education is going. A lot of schools will expect you to be aware of new methods in teaching.
The experience of having to go completely virtual has been rewarding and educational. I don’t think I’d ever want to teach a fully online class again, but I picked up a lot of things I did out of necessity that I can now incorporate into my in-person classes.Nancy Ortins Savage, University of New Haven
Q: What drew you to industry?
Towards the end of my Phd, I was asking a lot questions about what I would like to do. I started talking to people in various areas and asked them questions- what do you like about your job, what drives you, and so on, and explored my network and realized that for me, industry was the right choice.Max Mankin, CTO of Modern Electron
Q: Looking to the future, what are the challenges/opportunities for those starting in industry now or looking to start now?
There’s a lot of interest in changing our electric systems and grid, and that will require a lot of smart people to overcome these challenges.Pete Frischmann, CEO Sepion Technologies
Q: What do you like about working at a national lab?
I like being a part of solving big unique problems. There’s also the appeal of the prestige and serving the country. It also allows you to interact with universities and industry in a way that is different from being in academia or industry.Karl Walczak, Sandia National Laboratories.
Each lab is full of very smart, very capable people to work with and that has been great. Its really motivating to see the impact of your work on the country. On the other hand, being in the national lab system can make people a bit complacent, and things can move very slowly. But you can get around it through building relationships, understanding people and knowing where to focus your energy.
Broad Horizons in Science
Q: What are some things you wish you knew when you were getting started in your career?
I wish I knew that it wasn’t the most important thing to be the deepest thinker in my area of science, but that it’s so important to be able to communicate to a broader audience. Most scientific curricula are so packed that there’s no room to be able to put in anything about communicationsGeorge Maracas, DOE
Communication – learning lots of different communication styles – it’s not always about how technical or precise you can be, it’s how you can convey your story. Everyone from program managers, industry reps, venture capitalists, etc. How you tailor your story to each audience matters.
There’s a lot of different types of people you need to communicate with and a lot of different styles to communicate with them. There was no comms training in grad school – in fact it was more about how dense can you make your sentences.Russell Carrington, Berkeley Lab
I was a scientist who liked to solve problems and create solutions. I was very goal oriented and had specific steps of what I wanted to do next. I wouldn’t change that part, but the things that changed her path significantly were the things she was doing ‘on the side’ – policy work in grad school, random meetings that changed the direction she wanted to go in – opportunities that come up in the environment that you’re in. It was those extended networks that took her to the next stage of her career. These type of opportunities happen if you’re open to them.Ambika Bumb, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
After these great morning conversations, the afternoon continued with eight breakout symposia featuring speakers from across a broad range of nanoscale science. Details about each session are linked below.
1A Outlook and Technologies for Green Energy
2A Data-driven and Machine-learning Approaches to Nanoscale and Molecular Systems
3A Biosensors and Nanodevices for Early Disease Detection and Treatment
4A Magnet/Superconductor Hybrid Materials for Quantum Information Science and Technology
1B Emerging Energy Storage
2B Non-equilibrium and Non-perturbative Experimental and Theoretical Methods for Dynamical Science
3B Correlative and in situ Imaging for Nanoscale Materials
4B Latest Trends in Halide Perovskite Research
The day capped off with a virtual tour of the Molecular Foundry. Thanks to all those who attended, and we hope to be able to see you in person next year!