My First International Science Conference

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A trip to the 86th Annual Meeting of the Society of Rheology, in Philadelphia, PA, October 5–9, 2014

Society of Rheology Annual Meeting

October 5, 2014 to October 9, 2014

Philadelphia, PA

Meeting host:

The Society of Rheology


Clare Maristela V. Galon

SPS Chapter:

The author presents her work on red blood cells at a poster session. Photo courtesy of Clare Galon.

Traveling from my home in the Philippines to a conference in Pennsylvania was not easy. I had to adjust to the time change, the weather, the culture, and the people. But I was happy to adapt and get away from my comfort zone. I felt proud to be given the opportunity to attend a Society of Rheology meeting and present during the poster session.

Rheology is the study of the deformation and flow of matter. It can help us understand the mechanical properties of a material. I think that rheological properties can be compared to how people respond to stress in life. We are “elastic” if we easily feel sad when we experience stress and easily feel happy again if that stress is removed. We are “viscous” if we are not easily affected by environmental changes. Lastly, we are “viscoelastic” if we easily feel sad when we experience stress, but it takes a long time for us to feel happy again after the stress is removed.

Uncertainties of what the future might bring can be a cause of stress in my life. Fortunately, a forum at the conference called “Rheology in the Real World”, co-sponsored by the Society of Rheology and the American Institute of Physics, offered ideas on how to apply what I like and am learning in school to opportunities such as working for US national laboratories and world-class companies such as the Dow Chemical Company, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology–led nSoft Consortium, Mondelez International, MedImmune, and Procter & Gamble. During the forum, speakers shared their experiences and highlighted the role of rheology in their companies’ products. They also discussed how this branch of physics aids in biopharmaceutical and process development. I learned a lot about not only the applications of rheology, but also how to socialize, build strong peer relationships, be productive in research, and not be afraid to travel.

In addition to the forum, the meeting featured four plenary lectures and a series of symposia. I found a talk by Susan Muller of the University of California, Berkeley, to be the most interesting because she spoke about microfluidics. My research is on the microfluidics of human red blood cells. I was amazed by her description of how a nanoparticle can affect surrounding particles. Like Muller, I am very optimistic that there will soon be a cure for cancer; many of the researchers at the symposium were working on ways to treat the deadly illness.

The meeting did not consist of just serious talks. We had a lot of fun, as well! Michael Mackay of the University of Delaware headed a two-mile Rocky Rheology Run early one morning before the talks. At first I tried to keep up, but then I decided to walk to the last stop and take pictures of the beautiful city along the way. I took my time, and the funny thing was that I met all of the other runners as they were heading back to the start while I was still walking toward the last stop.

At the meeting, I gained a lot of knowledge and experiences (and also a little weight!).

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