Every four years, we’re gifted with one extra day nestled between February and March. This year, Athens spent Leap Day under a Tornado Watch while some of Ohio University’s finest joined thousands of physicists in Boston gathered at the American Physical Society’s (APS) 2012 March Meeting. The conference, which took place February 27 through March 2, drew its largest turnout to date with nearly 11,000 attendees.
David Ruiz, an Ohio University student enrolled in the PhD program, made the trip to the March Meeting along with the rest of the research group headed by Dr. Sergio Ulloa, an Ohio University professor in the department of physics and astronomy.
Being larger than the average convention, the March Meeting is comprised of serial ten minute talks based on selected submitted research abstracts. Longer thirty-minute invited talks are given by individuals invited for an invited talk. Though divided into two-hour sessions relating to a particular subject matter, nearly 500 talks occur at once. Beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m., there is an abundance of information being transmitted so Ruiz and his group members attended different presentations individually and then reunited at a later time.
“We all get together to discuss and tell each other what we found out, what was new, and what people are working on. This way you get more of the general picture [of the March Meeting] because by one’s self, it’s just impossible. The conference is too big,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz and his colleagues also took their turn sharing their own research. They presented their talk, entitled “Dynamical magnetic anisotrophy in spin -- 1 molecular systems,” which was a continuation of last year’s presentation. The group worked with others outside their own lab as well through the SPIRE “Spin Triangle” project.
“I, personally, was working with people in Argentina,” said Ruiz. SPIRE also collaborates with individuals in Germany too.
Ruiz’s research focused on what occurs to a molecule with certain magnetic properties when it is deformed by mechanical means.“It’s interesting because these are things nobody could do years ago and now we are exploring our new capabilities and how those can be applied to different things,” said Ruiz.
Having one March Meeting under his belt, Ruiz felt more comfortable at the well-populated conference which, with twenty-one units comprised of ten divisions, six forums and five topical groups participating, can be overwhelming. Ruiz noted that not only is the event’s size a challenge but the opportunity to network arises as well.
The aspect of introducing yourself to people who may later on offer employment or collaboration appealed to Ruiz in making his second APS March Meeting different than his first attendance, which he confessed was more of a formality.
“This year was different because I actually got to meet and discuss with people,” Ruiz said.
Other than the educational experience of networking, Ruiz doesn’t recommend the March Meeting for sheer learning purposes. The sessions are continuous and are mostly updates and opportunities to learn about interesting experiments pertaining to or outside of one’s field.
“The general philosophy is to look for specialized sessions that are related to your work and then you kind of go for the big ones like a planetary session in which there is a very famous physicist. You can act as if you were a groupie seeing your idol speak,” said Ruiz who, depending on where the course of the next year finds him, may be in attendance again for his third consecutive March Meeting.
Thu, May 3, 2012
by Alexandria Jeanneret