Graduate life – Take the advantage of academic seminars

Resource: Vanderbilt University website

First of all, Happy Halloween! I hope you are enjoying a wonderful (although rainy) day of pumpkin spices, costumes and fun with friends. Today, I would also like to talk about how to make the most out of academic seminars.

I believe that each department has their own schedule of academic seminars and talks. Here I just use Department of Chemistry as an example. Each Tuesday afternoon, one invited speaker (usually professors) gives an 1-hour talk on their research. As everyone can imagine, the research themes cover the whole spectrum of chemistry – inorganic, synthetic, biological, medicinal, etc.

As a graduate student with assigned supervisors, our daily involvement with chemistry is more or less fixed in a sub-domain. With a lot of chores to deal with in the laboratory, it is often quite hard to find some time to get a look at what other peoples are doing in another field of chemistry research. Given the fact that the modern world is equipped with swift communication and massive idea exchange, interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary research projects become very common nowadays. From those publications by industrial and academic research groups, it is very clear that the collaboration between multiple departments or principle investigators is indispensable to discover new knowledge. It is also very common that investigators integrate new techniques into their research and find new directions.

Myself as a graduate student only deal with organic chemistry on a daily basis. Therefore, the weekly seminars significantly broaden my horizons and sometimes even give me inspirations for my own research. After all, you want to become a competent thinker at the end of graduate studies. Regarding job hunting, there’s a great chance that what you are assigned to do/decide to do has little relevance to your research theme in your graduate studies. Keeping these in mind, some understanding on the cutting-edge research achievements can only be beneficial.

If you know that your department has these activities, no matter which stage you are at (undergraduate, graduate), go and attend them. Remember, they are free, but what you will learn from them is priceless.

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