Published: Aug. 26, 2022 By

Prof. Michael Toney discussing shared facilities at the symposium
Above: Prof. Michael Toney discussing shared facilities at the symposium.
Header Image: Prof. Stephanie Bryant opening speech at the symposium.

Close to 200 scientists and engineers came together for a special materials conference to share their research and discuss collaborations at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The 2022 Innovation in Materials Science Symposium was held Aug. 11-12 and sponsored by the Materials Science & Engineering Program.

“After two years without events like this one, it was wonderful to see 180+ people attending great lectures,” said Michael McGehee, symposium organizer, associate director of MSE, and a professor of chemical and biological engineering. “We saw fascinating research on topics ranging from sustainability, to quantum computing, to advanced characterization, to biomaterials.”

With engaging research presentations, student and postdoc poster sessions, shared-use facility tours, and industry participation, the symposium offered attendees a chance to explore the breadth of cutting-edge materials research taking place on the CU Boulder campus and beyond.

“I’m learning a lot. I know my research, but this is a chance to bring our community together and see what everyone is doing. It builds collaboration potential,” said Stephanie Bryant, MSE program director and a professor of chemical and biological engineering. “We had registrants from departments all across CU Boulder, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Colorado School of Mines, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and local companies.”

Materials science research spans interdisciplinary areas of critical importance for humanity. While there are countless materials-related investigations going on at CU Boulder and along the Front Range, faculty are not always aware of what colleagues outside their home departments are doing – particularly in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic made gatherings difficult.

MSE is working to break down barriers and build new professional connections among the materials community at CU Boulder and beyond. The symposium offered a unique opportunity to raise awareness and expand relationships among materials researchers in the Rocky Mountain region, like Chen-Ting Liao, an attendee and senior research associate at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) on campus.

"Only through the symposium’s poster session did I realize that other researchers on campus share the same research interests as mine. I developed and use a unique instrument, a tabletop-scale coherent x-ray scattering setup; I learned that another research group uses a similar tool—but on a facility-scale. This really opens up new future collaboration opportunities— in terms of knowledge exchange on similar physical properties of different materials or systems, as well as comparable tools and methods to characterize them," Liao said.

Bryant said experiences like Liao's, where attendees have the chance to connect and build partnerships demonstrates the positive impact of the symposium.

“Materials science is important in everything we do in the world,” Bryant said. “We need materials to combat climate change, for health care, computers, just everything in everyday life, and people at this event are leading cutting edge research programs. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.”

Additional Photos

The poster session at the symposium.

Dist. Prof. Margaret Murnane discussing real-time functional imaging in JILA.