6 Oct 2017
David Makepeace was awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary in June 2017 to attend the Polymer Colloids group Conference in Spain, 25 - 30 June 2017. David is a PhD student at the University of Surrey. Here, he describes how his attendance has broadened his scientific interests and the invaluable opportunity to discuss career opportunities with those from academia and a range of industries.
‘On the 25 - 30 July, I attended the International Polymer Colloids group Conference, in the beautiful setting of Arantzazu, Spain, in the Basque area. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary, which contributed to the conference fee.
‘The conference brought together world leading scientists, from academia and industry, to discuss the latest developments in colloidal polymer science. The conference has an emphasis on presenting unpublished work, which allowed me to engage with material I had not previously seen during the course of my three years of PhD studies. I feel fortunate that many of the invited speakers were those whose work I had been following since beginning my PhD studies, such as Professor Steve Arms (University of Sheffield), Professor Stefan Bon (Warwick University) and Professor Mitchell Winnik (University of Ontario).
‘The balance of academic and industrial speakers/attendees was excellent, as well as the largest student body the conference has ever seen, with students accounting for approximately one third of the conference attendees. As a PhD student, coming to the end of my PhD studies, the opportunity to discuss career opportunities with those from academia and a range of industries was invaluable to me.
‘During the poster session, I presented my poster: ‘Stratification and Ordering in Colloidal Films: Effect of Size Ratio’. I was blown away by the response and interest in my work during this three hour session. Having been afforded the opportunity to give oral presentations and present posters at various conferences over the past three years, I can honestly say that this was the most engaging poster session I have been a part of. Every conference attendee took the time to read every poster, with a significant portion wanting to discuss my work in detail. I was incredibly proud when one of the industrial attendees, a lead scientist all the way from China, requested that I send her my poster, so that she could read it in more detail and show others; I feel that this really speaks for the level of engagement between students and more experienced members of the community.
‘The conference has a different structure to others that I have attended, with some free time in the afternoon, lectures in the evening, prior to dinner and ‘social hour’. I feel that this structure made it easier to engage with academics and industrial experts following their talks, as everyone took some time every evening to share a drink and discuss their work with the attendees. The social aspect of this conference was wonderful, thanks to the daily social hour (which lasted far more than an hour each night!). This wonderful social side of the conference complimented the academic side perfectly; it was a pleasure to share the classic Basque drink ‘Kalimotxo’ (which is an oddly delicious combination of red wine and Coke) with so many like-minded people. The conference meal, in a restaurant overlooking a beautiful valley, was a wonderful wrap-up to the conference, with the conference’s secret ‘moral officer’ presenting a slide-show of the funnier side of the conference, such as respected academics sleeping during lectures after a late night and some of the antics that people got up to during social hour. Fortunately I was not a feature of the moral officer’s presentation!
‘I would like to thank SCI for awarding me this bursary, which was fundamental in me attending this wonderful conference. The conference will be held next in Singapore, in 2019. I highly recommend this conference to anyone who has an interest in colloidal polymers.’
University of Surrey