Cosimo Ligorio was awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary to attend the Materials Research Society Fall Meeting and Exhibit 2019 in Boston, USA. Here, Cosimo reports back on the conference which gave him an opportunity to network and present his research for which he won a prize.
‘The MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit 2019 was an international conference held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 1st-6th December 2019. Every year, this international conference showcases interdisciplinary research in both fundamental and applied materials science, ranging from energy storage materials to characterisation and applications of soft materials and biomaterials. Due to its inherent interdisciplinary nature, this year the conference hosted 54 symposia and attracted more than 6000 scientists from around the world, along with exhibitors and editors from the most prestigious journals in the field of material science.
‘Personally, I was very interested in attending the symposia related to soft materials and biomaterials, going from multiscale materials engineering to hydrogel 3D printing and cell therapies. However, due to the vast programme available I had also the opportunity to explore other fields of tissue engineering that I have never considered before, such as mechanobiology, cancer therapies and neural interfaces. On the first day of the conference, for example, I attended a tutorial on mechanobiology in which we looked at the chemistry of the molecules involved in cell-material interactions, but also at the design of new advanced materials to elicit a cell fate. I found this very interesting, pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to think outside the box. Moreover, it gave me the chance to meet new people and start a network that I think will be very scientifically valuable for the next steps of my career.
‘On the following days, I had the chance to meet and chat with well-known researchers and Professors in the field of hydrogel fabrication and hydrogel for regenerative medicine, such as Prof Xuanhe Zhao (MIT) who gave a talk about tough adhesive hydrogels for suture application and Prof Alan Grodzinsky (MIT), who explained how intricate is the transport of biomolecules into stiff gels to for the treatment of cartilage defects. In the same session, on Friday 6th December I presented my work on peptide/graphene oxide hydrogel nanocomposites for nucleus pulposus tissue engineering. The talk was well-received and I was awarded a prize sponsored by the Journal of Materials Chemistry B for my talk in this session, which is represents an honour for me and a rewarding experience for my career. My talk was also sponsored on the official conference blog (MRS Blog), which gave attention to my talk and brought some interest in my research.
‘This conference was my first one in US and it was a great success. Before and after my talk I had very productive discussions with researchers from around the world and this was profoundly important to enlarge my network of colleagues and potential collaborators. Indeed, attending this conference not only gave me the chance to present my work in front of a world leading expert audience, but it also gave me the opportunity to advertise my research work with the aim to find potential PDRA positions following my PhD. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the Sir Eric Rideal Travel Bursary; therefore I am deeply grateful to the SOCI for its precious contribution in supporting my attendance and my early stage career.’
The University of Manchester