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MRSEC collaborations celebrate diversity and professional growth in materials research

Education and Outreach Coordination

  • UD CHARM and Princeton’s PCCM coordinated with the Chicago MRSEC to host three virtual events (Soft Matter for All, Rising Stars, and a Professional Development Workshop) to highlight early career, high-impact research and ignite discussion for graduate students and postdocs pursuing academic and non-academic career paths
  • A common application was used for Soft Matter for All (PCCM/CHARM) and Rising Stars (Chicago); each organizing team prioritized a list of speakers and negotiated final selections; both events were run independently
  • The professional development workshop was led by CHARM and PCCM in coordination with Chicago
  • Soft Matter for All and the Professional Development Workshop were facilitated by postdocs and grad students from PCCM, CHARM, and UD EmPOWER (a graduate peer-mentoring group)

Soft Matter for All

  • This event was designed to celebrate diversity in soft materials research through the promotion of exceptional science
  • Prof. Julia Kornfield (Caltech) delivered a powerful keynote on the mentorship that impacted the research highlights across her career, followed by scientific talks from 7 postdocs and 8 graduate students; these speakers represented 14 academic institutions across North America
  • Early career research talks spanned rheology and colloidal, biological, and polymeric soft matter

Professional Development Workshop

  • The event was kicked off by two keynotes: Prof. Tim Long (ASU) reflected on his professional pathway linking academia and industry, and Prof. Jen Heemstra (Emory) reminded our attendees that self-care is essential for strong performance
  • Two panels covered non-academic (policy, industry, government, and entrepreneurship) and academic paths, and provided attendees with the opportunity to ask questions and share knowledge