Postdoctoral researchers from the Institute of Materials Science and the Materials Science and Engineering Department will hold their 1st Symposium on Computational Research on Thursday, July 27. IMS News asked Dr. S. Pamir Alpay, Head of the Materials Science and Engineering Department and postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Sanjeev Nayak, coordinator for the symposium, about their expectations for the first year of the event:

Dr. S. Pamir Alpay

Dr. S. Pamir Alpay

How did the idea of this symposium come about?
As new students joined our group, there was a requirement to introduce them to the field. But, materials science and engineering is such a vast subject covering all the disciplines of STEM, it was desirable to have them see beyond the research interests of the group. Hence, a thought came that we should arrange a symposium. From another perspective, there existed no formal postdoctoral researcher’s activity in the IMS/MSE and we know their important contribution in research. This symposium was planned such that IMS/MSE postdoctoral researchers could take the lead, discuss their research and create an active and brainstorming session. The IMS/MSE postdoctoral members from modeling and theory division voluntarily came forward and hence the symposium touches the theoretical aspect.

What are your expectations for the symposium and what does success look like?
Our expectations for this symposium are at the individual research level. For example, if someone is stuck in a bottleneck situation pertaining to one’s research, it would be easy to seek help from a more experienced researcher in that field. We expect that the students and researchers would make themselves known to one other so that each would know where to find help. Maintaining a list of participants of this (and future) symposium will provide that necessary contact information. Our measure of success is simple, more active engagement with people and a sense of collective academics. The tone of this symposium is at the level of idea-exchange and concept development. If we can set a playground for conceptual development, naturally we would be doing creative research. We are glad that people from departments like, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Sciences, and Electrical and Computer Engineering have signed-up for the symposium.

Dr. Sanjeev Nayak

Dr. Sanjeev Nayak

As this is being billed as the 1st, what are your expectations for future symposia?
We believe that isolated events cannot accomplish the broad goals and hence we encourage annual meetings of this kind. This year’s program is an IMS/MSE postdoctoral activity and attendees have signed up from various departments of UConn and one guest from the Roger Williams University, Rhode Island. We can see that this type of symposium on fundamental research raises a lot of interest among researchers. Our effort for future symposia would be to accommodate selected experts from universities, national labs and industries from across the nation. Such gatherings will help our young members to assimilate, build up networks and possibly also find jobs.