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Richardson Travel Bursary Recipient, Yajie Gao, Reports from Florida, USA

Yajie Gao

22 Apr 2015

Yajie Gao was awarded a Richardson Travel Bursary in 2014. Here, she reports on her attendance at the 39th International Conference and Expo on Advanced Ceramics and Composites (ICACC’15), in Florida, USA.

‘I am a third year PhD student at Imperial College London. The aim of my project is to study the structure and properties of different types of apatitic biomaterials. By understanding the fundamental structure and the formation mechanism of calcium apatite we aim to mimic the biological hydroxyapatite so as to reduce bone implant infection and the catastrophic  consequences  associated  with  it.  By analysing the essential chemical and structural information of the calcium apatite, the project has the potential to guide the development of new calcium apatite biomaterials.

‘Thanks to the generous support of SCI via the Richardson Travel Bursary, I was able to present my PhD work at the ‘39th International Conference and Expo on Advanced Ceramics and Composites (ICACC’15)’, in Florida, US. This conference was organized by the American Ceramic Society, which has a long history and a successful reputation in ceramic industry. This year ICACC’15 consisted of 13 symposia, six focused sessions, the  4th  Global  Young  Investigator  Forum  and  the  2nd  European  Union  –  USA Engineering Ceramics Summit. During the congress, global business and technology leaders, scientists, and researchers met to share ideas and visions of the future for advanced ceramics, armor ceramics, solid oxide fuel cells, ceramic coatings, bioceramics and more.

‘The conference started with the plenary speaker session, which was a good opportunity to learn from these leading researchers. Professor David R Clarke (Harvard University) gave a talk about ‘Materials Selection for the Next Generation Thermal Barrier Coatings’, which expanded my knowledge and broadened my horizons to the applications of high performance ceramics.  In  the  subsequent  program,  I  was  really  interested  in  the ‘Additive  Manufacturing  and  3D  Printing  Technologies’  session.  The  speakers  from different  areas  gave  a  range  of  interesting  talks  about  3D  printing  technology  in artificial bone,  aircraft and  spaceship manufacture. These engaging  talks  were  very knowledgeable,  and  it  was  a  concise  way  to  learn  about  new  technologies  and applications. 

‘The conference offered an especially good opportunity to connect with the speakers in person, and I got a chance to talk with Professor Soshu Kirihara (Osaka University), who was the programme chair and did a lot of fascinating work in biomaterials 3D printing, which was an informative conversation. I gained some inside knowledge of this field, but this was also an excellent opportunity to network. During the conference evening event, there were poster sessions where I met other researchers and early career students. I appreciated the opportunity to meet people from all different geographical areas though with a shared common discipline. We had plenty of time to discuss where our interests and specialisation lay and I found the conversations could consistently help each other uncover ideas and even spark inspirations in further work.

‘I was honoured to present my work on the ‘Structure and Properties Study of Calcium Phosphorus Apatite’ in the Next Generation Bioceramics and Biocomposites: Nanostructured Bioceramics session. Although it was not the first time I had given a talk in an international conference, before I went up on the stage my palms were sweaty and pulse was racing. However, as soon as I started the first slide, my enthusiasm for the work overcame my nervousness and I felt much more comfortable and confident to explain the project and make my presentation flow. It was a valuable experience to share my recent work with these talented participants from different backgrounds and receive the useful feedback during the discussion afterward.

‘The conference was held in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is a beautiful holiday resort. We went to some lovely restaurants and walked along the beach after the meeting with new friends. The venue is also very near the Kennedy Space Centre and I took a one day tour to the space centre after the conference. There I met retired astronaut Barbara Morgan, who is a very friendly and interesting lady. We talked about her life back in the space station and the conference ICACC’15 I had just attended, which she was interested in as some of the speakers came from NASA. We took a photo together before I left, which was definitely the highlight of my day!

‘Attending this kind of international conference is an ideal opportunity to meet other scientists, engineers, and young students working in relevant fields to build an effective network, and will also be a chance to connect with some leading thinkers. I believe this conference experience will bring me many benefits for my future study and career development.

‘I am very grateful for receiving the SCI Richardson Travel Bursary. Due to SCI’s generous support, I have had this enjoyable and professionally stimulating conference experience. Many thanks also to my supervisors Dr Robert Law, Dr Natalia Karpukhina, Professor Robert Hill, and all my colleagues from the bio-membrane group, (Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London) and the bio-glass group (Institute of Dentistry, Queen Mary University), without any of whom I couldn’t have finished this work and had this enriching experience.’

Yajie Gao,
PhD student at Imperial College London.

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