I had the opportunity to attend the XXth Netherlands’ Catalysis and Chemistry Conference (NCCC) last March. NCCC attracts about 500 participants, including also scientists from industry. NCCC includes lectures by invited speakers, and selected oral papers and posters. PhD candidates are encouraged to present their research, discuss it with leading scientists and representatives from industry. NCCC offers a unique, international forum to exchange innovative ideas between academic and industrial scientists in a broad area of catalysis and chemistry research and technology. Last but not least, NCCC has a variety of topics and dealing with the most scientifically important issues. Applied Heterogeneous Catalysis, Homogeneous Catalysis, Zeolites, cages and MOFS (confined spaces) but also Photo & Electro Catalysis, Biomass & Hydrogen, Theory & spectroscopy are part of the topics.
I had the chance to present my work at XXth NCCC this year. I presented my poster with title “Impact of Impurities in Waste Mine Tailings-derived Zeolite ZSM-5 as Catalyst for the Methanol-To-Olefins Reaction”. My research question, briefly, is “can we use low-grade metallurgical residues as a catalyst” and if yes “how the impurities affects the catalytic activity”. My goal is to valorize waste flotation tailings as heterogeneous catalyst. In order to make this reality, SOCRATES residues were used as raw material for making catalysts.
During the poster session of the XXth NCCC, I realized that presenting a poster is very beneficial for my. I received immediate feedback on my latest results and I met a lot of people from my field. Furthermore, I also heard about the latest and important research topics where you can involve in conversations, say your ideas and opinions. Last but not least, spending these days in a conference helped me improve my presentation and communication skills which is very important for my future career.
So yes, conferences, among different other things, are part of #PhD-life. Being a PhD candidate for the last two and a half years, I have heard many opinions on the importance of attending conferences. Below you can find a few reasons and some advantages why to attend a conference.
Presenting you work in a conference, it is a nice practice for when you want to publish your results. As you might have comments or questions on your research and this will help you to anticipate or predict the reviewer’s comment. Of course, it is not only this. Do not forget, these questions and comments are always another pair of eyes. It is not bad that you have someone else’s opinion who is not involved in your research.
Apart from feedback, presenting your research in a big conference gives you the opportunity to meet people that working on the same topic with you. Meeting new people and broadening your network is very crucial for your future career which can be helpful for the job search after your PhD. It can be also beneficial for your PhD as you can collaborate with new people who can help you expand and evolve your research.
- Presentation and communication skills
To be honest, soft skills are necessary for every kind of job. Especially, research/academia -related jobs requires great communication and presentation skills. It is important that you are capable to present your topic. Many things plays a role on this, like the speed that you talk, body language and also the way that you answer in the questions. Of course, every time that you attend in a conference you improve and you are getting better. So more conferences, more talking then more presentation and improved communication skills!
A final advantage of attending a conference is that it is FUN. Although it is all about your work, it can still be entertaining. You have the chance to travel and see new places. I didn’t have the opportunity yet to attend in a conference at an exotic destination but I still remember my colleagues describing their experience when they had conferences at Thailand or New Zealand or Japan or even Australia. Food, new people, new culture and sightseeing are a few things that comes into my mind… when fun meets conferences.
About the author
I am Nikos Nikolopoulos from Greece and I am ESR 14. My bachelor is in Chemistry at the University of Patras. Furthermore, I have a master’s degree in “Catalysis, Environmental Protection and Clean Energy Production”. Lately, I joined SOCRATES and I am doing my PhD at Utrecht University under the supervision of Dr. Gareth Whiting and Prof. Bert Weckhuysen. My PhD thesis focuses on the advanced characterization of metal-containing, low-grade metallurgical residues.
If you are interested in my research you may get in touch with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org