Attending the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco was an incredible experience that shed new light onto my research and the filed of optics and lasers that I was previously unaware of. This was my first academic conference that I had attended and being a talk presenter made it feel even more like jumping into the deep end of a pool. The first couple days the scale of the conference was quite overwhelming, with the events spanning three conference halls and multiple hotels in the area. I was able deal with the nerves that I had going into my presentation using some meditation skills I have acquired through collegiate baseball. Going over my talk with my research advisor it came to my attention how important it is to be as accurate as possible when discussing my research in the professional setting. I had previously presented this research in August of 2019 to fellow undergraduate physics researchers and mentors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At Photonics West my talk would be under significantly more scrutiny than in the undergraduate setting. The pressure resulted in me having to know the ins and outs of all aspects of my talk. Post-talk questions also brought to light a couple aspects of my research I has not previously thought of. For most, I was asked about potential utilization of the InP crystal analyzed for laser applications going forward which could have real merit and possibilities. This would turn my summer research project into a large-scale project similar to a dissertation.
At the conference I was also able to attend a four-hour course on laser fundamentals with the emphasis being placed how the private laser sector discusses and buys/sells laser systems. The course in addition to providing new information allowed me to think about private optics companies which may be a field I have interest getting into in my future.
The conference also had a large exhibition for companies to showcase new technologies that they have developed. Companies ranged from small photonics start-ups to large companies such as ThorLabs and M2. Personally, walking about the exhibition hall and discussing products and jobs with exhibitioners was more insightful than sitting in on talks. I was able to relate skills and tools that I have developed in the lab to what others are doing in private sectors. To me the exhibition hall was the hidden aspect of science that is an accumulation of academia. Up to this point in my life, education has been the end goal but I now a new perspective of where my education may lead me to. And Photonics West was a great intersection of academics presenting talks and posters while companies showcase their technologies. Overall, the conference was a challenge I had to face in presenting and getting over fears along with a great opportunity to see how much insightful and interesting stuff is going on in optics. I am incredibly humble and grateful to be given this opportunity to present and attend the conference and I hope to continue to make the most of the opportunity that I was given.
We are now accepting applications for undergraduate students from around the country to participated in our 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) supported Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in “Experimental and Computational Materials Research”. We offer a broad range of interdisciplinary materials research experiences to undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds in physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and engineering. Stipend for the 10-week period is $5000. Housing will be provided to non-local participants. Application Deadline: March 15, 2020. If students have any questions about logistics, housing, and travel arrangements, they may contact Charita Cadenhead, our Program Coordinator at (205) 975-8076 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Dr. Joel Dobbs, Instructor at UAB School of Business (Management, Information Systems and Quantitative Methods) was kind enough to give the REUs a tour of Birmingham’s Innovation Depot. Dr. Dobbs also presented at one of our seminars this year. His topic: Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Both the seminar and the tour were a delight and helped to shed new light on how students should approach their careers. One of the big take aways from the seminar and the tour, per Dr. Dobbs, is that students should approach their careers with the mindset of an entrepreneur. What a great way plan for an exceptional career path.
Below are photos from the tour featuring participants as well as a sample of some of the features and businesses housed in the Depot.
There is a lot of graduate programs to explore at UAB and our 2017 REUs had the opportunity to talk with program representatives in a variety of disciplines at UAB. The Graduate Fair was deemed a success by our REUs and they felt that they learned a great deal about their options (whether here at UAB or elsewhere.
We are so proud of Class of 2017 REUs and the outstanding work that they did in the lab, their PowerPoint presentations, research papers and of course showcasing the culmination of their hard work at the 2017 Summer Expo. A huge part of our program is the experience of presenting their research to a broad audience. The annual Expo gives them just such an opportunity to share that knowledge through being well prepared to explain their work and answer questions posed to them by judges and other Expo attendees.
UAB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and family-friendly environment in which all faculty and staff can excel and achieve work/life balance irrespective of race, national origin, age, genetic or family medical history, gender, faith, gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation. UAB also encourages applications from individuals with disabilities and veterans.