My first international conference: part 1

Day 1

After approximately 18 hours of travel across 8 time zones I arrived last night (Sunday 10 January 2016) in San Diego for the 13th MMM-Intermag joint conference, thankfully known by the short-hand, Magnetism 2016.

This is my first international conference and the main reason I am here is to give a 10 minute presentation on my research in four short days. Right now I feel surprisingly cool and confident, although I don’t know what to expect. Thankfully there is a (fairly sizeable) conference handbook given to me upon registration, which gives me everything I need to know – when and where each presentation or poster session is, what special events are on each day and even what the WiFi password is. I think this book will be worth its weight in gold. The only thing going on officially today is a session on ‘the latest fabrication technologies for magnetic devices and magnets’. This is running from 3pm-6:30pm, so I plan to check this out after I’ve explored the hotel and downtown San Diego for a bite to eat!


Day 2

I had a great first day and I spent last night watching the American football college championship over dinner in the hotel bar, which had a great atmosphere as there are quite a few conference attendees from the competing collegiate teams. I also spent last night going through the conference handbook, circling which presentations I wanted to see and which posters to visit over the next few days. Doing this is oddly reminiscent of being at a music festival! The presentations start at 8:30am, which was actually no problem to get up for due to my body-clock being 8-hours ahead!

The time-zone I am used to, so I sat down, notepad open, pen in hand, ready for the first session on hard magnetic intermetallic compounds, something close to the area of work I research.

After a few hours I have a few note pages of scribbles. I have noticed some names in the presentation notes I recognise from a number of papers I have read, so its quite exciting to be around these influential researchers, albeit slightly scary to think they may be picking my presentation apart in a few days!

The evening hosted a social event, where everyone was given a beer stein with the conference logo on it and complimentary beer was on offer, so naturally this was a great opportunity to meet with old friends or make new ones! I met with Prof. Dan Allwood and Dr. Tom Hayward from the Magnetics group in Sheffield and caught up over our journeys to the conference as well thoughts on the conference so far.

Day 3

Wednesday was fairly quiet in terms of sessions related to my own research, but this allowed me the opportunity to check anything that just sounded interesting, novel or cool. I think as a researcher you can become too focused on your own field of work during a PhD, so it’s important to sometimes scope out other research going on. I spent a lot of the morning at the poster sessions, because I could speak to the authors and ask them things I didn’t understand about their interesting work. I did manage to find a student working in South Korea who was doing some Finite Element Method modelling of eddy current losses in permanent magnets in electric motor drives. This is actually something similar to what I do, so I had a good talk about a potential collaboration, passing on my contact information in the hopes they get in touch after the conference!
The evening featured the plenary meeting lecture; awards were given out and a lecture given by Ali Hajimiri from the California Institute of Technology. It was an interesting talk from somebody who doesn’t actually do magnetics research, but who use magnetics in the research of bioengineering. It was really interesting to see some of the practical uses of the by-products of fundamental magnetics research.

Stay tuned for my next instalment!

PhD student, Advanced Metallic Systems CDT



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