The official first day of the conference was filled with workshops the entire day. There were several sessions for young professors (e.g., Dr. Prathap Parameswaran, who was my roommate during the conference) applying for research funding by writing proposals, and developing teaching curricula specifically integrating “sustainability.” Prathap said the workshops were really helpful for him to start his new, tenure-track position at Kansas State University this fall. One of the workshops was about research funding opportunities. Our Center Director, Dr. Bruce Rittmann, was one of the panelists, and he presented his experiences to expand research-funding opportunities and mentioned our Center, our Institute and ASU as a good models. I believe that many researchers were impressed and encouraged to become more active after this workshop.
I also participated in workshops mostly for graduate students: 1) the academic and professional job search and 2) re-thinking wastewater treatment at the nexus of energy, climate change, and resource recovery. The first workshop delivered general information about how to prepare for job applications and the interview process. It was helpful because the panelists have diverse experiences in different situations such as dual majors and switching jobs (from Industry to School or from School to Industry). The latter workshop was an activity that merged the participants’ ideas to make one big picture about new wastewater treatment systems. It was really good in that not just one speaker provided the ideas but graduate students offered solutions to the current issues, linking different fields to more sustainable methods, during an animated brainstorming session.
Prathap and I presented posters on the third day of the conference titled, “Feasibility of selective fermentation of the non-lipid fractions of Scenedsmus biomass coupled with biohydrogenation to produce saturated fatty acids” and “Energy recovery from primary sludge using microbial electrochemical cells,” respectively. Many people came by and talked to us for about three hours during the poster sessions. It was fun to share my research and also meet new people as well as old friends. I was happy to see Dr. Youneng Tang, a SCEB alumnus, who presented his biofilm modeling during the poster session. He was excited to have started as a new Assistant Professor at Florida State University in the Spring of 2015.
The conference schedule was very packed and busy, but Prathap and I had a chance to look around the beautiful campus. Prof. Elimelech (Conference Co-Chair) suggested visiting some historical sites at Yale; one of them was Gibbs’ burial site. It was a very weird feeling to think about having a cemetery on campus, but we could see the graves of the “Father of Thermodynamics” and his father, too. (His father is not known as “the Grandfather of Thermodynamics.”)