John B. Goodenough Symposium in Materials Science & Engineering

It’s a long title… but it represents a long legacy. I meant to recap the symposium that was put on in honor of my advisor’s 90th birthday sooner (it was Oct. 26-27), but life and work–mostly work, I am a grad student after all–kept getting in the way.

It was a really impressive event, and a lot of credit is due to the organizers Jianshi Zhou (my co-supervisor) and Arumugam “Ram” Manthiram. And equal credit is due to the behind-the-scenes organizers who included Lauren Murrah, Christy Aletky and others.

Something on the order of 200 scientists all specializing in Transition Metal Oxides and Lithium Ion Batteries came in from all around the world. Two fields of Materials Science/Solid-State Chemistry/Condensed Matter Physics that were birthed, in large part, from the mind of John B. Goodenough.

On Friday, we were able to mingle with everybody, and I was able to show my poster (which I posted about before the event). I’m not particularly good at networking, but I was able to have a couple of really great conversations that evening.

The first was with Dr. Laura Lewis of Northeastern University in Boston. We started discussing some of my research and also some of the work I’ve been able to do up on the synchrotron. But beyond that we were able to have a great conversation about different things I should be looking for as I move along the last year of my program and start looking toward next year. I’m really grateful for the chance I had to pick her brain!

Another great conversation was an impromptu talk by Dr. Gang Cao of the University of Kentucky. He has been able to move forward a lot of research in the 4d and 5d transition metals (especially concerning the Iridates), so it was fascinating to get caught up on his findings, and have a relatively informal conversation about the slides he was presenting to a little band of 6-8 of us. It had a great feeling of camaraderie and community discovery which sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day of working in a lab. It was really refreshing and invigorating.

Saturday was a series of very good lectures both on the history of the fields (stories of the early days), and in the most modern applications (like the possibilities of Lithium-Air batteries and the like). They were great.

I especially enjoyed the talk by Dr. José Antonio Alonso of the Insituto de Ciencias de Materiales de Madrid in Spain regarding high-pressure perovskite phases of the transition metal oxides. Mostly because it was highly relevant to my own research. And because I’ve collaborated with him on these topics before when I spent a couple weeks in Spain last year learning some experimental techniques from him and others in his  lab.

So Happy Birthday to the boss-man! The event in your honor was amazing, as is your storied career. Many congratulations.

The only thing missing from this post is a copy of the short video that features Dr. Goodenough himself. He tells a couple great anecdotes, so I will try to track down a copy to post. In the meantime, the man himself giving his talk at dinner:

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