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Popular Professional Development Sessions

Material Research Society FoundationDuring MRS Meetings, the Public Outreach Committee and Materials Research Society Foundation provide various workshops and seminars to engage the membership and encourage involvement in professional development outreach activities. The sessions are designed to enhance professional communication skills with the general public, through science presentations, poster sessions, science journalism, press communications and public service information.




How to Prepare for Your ABET Accreditation

Members of the MRS Accreditation Subcommittee provide this information session for anyone interested in the ABET evaluation process. It serves as a training session for an institution or program preparing for an upcoming accreditation visit.

ABET is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the recognized accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology at the associate, bachelor and master degree levels.  It is a federation of 36 professional and technical societies representing these fields, and ensuring quality standards through a formal process of accreditation. Among the most respected accreditation organizations in the United States, ABET currently accredits 4005 programs at 793 colleges and universities in 32 countries. It has provided leadership and quality assurance in higher education for over 80 years.

ABET is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the accreditation process holds ISO 9001-2008 certification. More information can be found at

Instructors include: Janet Callahan, Boise State University; Ronald Gibala, University of Michigan; William Hammetter, Sandia National Laboratories; Gregg M. Janowski, The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The instructors have personal experience as program evaluators and/or faculty at ABET accredited MS&E programs. They will emphasize topics unique to materials science programs. This training session is offered at both the MRS Spring and Fall Meetings. Check individual Meeting schedules for exact time, locations and availability of internet access to the training.

The Art of Communicating Science

Effective Poster Design Seminar

Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute, describes the essentials of designing effective, stand-out scientific posters, including practical recommendations for poster layout, typography, and using the poster to tell an engaging story about one’s findings.

Public Speaking and Communications Seminar: Sunshine Menezes

The ability to effectively convey and discuss the significance of scientific findings is an essential skill that can affect researchers’ interactions with their scientific peers, funders, the media, and public audiences. Likewise, non-scientific staff working on environmental topics at academic institutions and nonprofits often need to craft compelling messages for a wide range of audiences. Sunshine Menezes from the Metcalf Institute provided attendees with an overview of why science communication matters within both professional and public contexts. This seminar also described the ingredients needed for effective science communication, best practices for crafting clear and compelling messages about scientific research, and activities and resources for honing communication skills.

Public Speaking and Communications Seminar: Alaina Levine

Communications expert Alaina G. Levine has been advising emerging and established scientists and engineers about their careers for over a decade. For a variety of reasons, communicating your research with non-experts is an important skill. Learning to fine-tune your message, effective speaking techniques, the proper use of non-verbal communication and how to effectively utilize PowerPoint (but not rely on it) are valuable lessons that build effective communications. In this session, attendees learned the elements of how to deliver a speech, presentation or any kind of public talk with confidence and poise.

Poster Presentation Success Seminar: Alaina Levine

Preparing a poster presentation offers great opportunity to connect with potential collaborators and employers. The key is optimize your time before, during and after the session, and really take advantage of all the eyeballs on your poster to develop strong networking alliances and job leads. In this workshop, they discussed the elements of a successful poster and, even more importantly, how to deliver a meaningful, effective poster presentation. Attendees also discovered how to follow up and leverage the connections you make to develop partnerships, and utilize social media to build buzz around you and your research endeavors

Making the Most of Broadcast Media Workshop

There is no better way for your research to reach a broader audience than through broadcast media. Films, television, radio and the Internet provide a huge pipeline though which society can discover scientific research. Yet news departments worldwide continue to devote less reporting to topics in science, and the onus now falls on scientists to craft and deliver messages about their work that is suited for dissemination through these media channels.

This session provided some of the principles of creating newsworthy stories from research discoveries. Participants gained hands-on experience at turning a research paper into a newspaper article or television story and have the opportunity to practice giving a live media interview. The session also included a segment on using modern media creation and distribution pathways to create content that connects researchers directly to public audiences.

Mastering Science Presentations Seminar

The scientific process is not just about generating ideas; it is about freely sharing those ideas with the broader world. Now, more than ever, the ability to recruit students, attract colleagues, garner attention and secure funding is tied to your ability to successfully communicate the results of your work, both to peers and to the general public.

For a variety of reasons, communicating your research with non-experts is an important skill. In this session, attendees learned the fundamentals of sharing science, how to choose the very best tools to do the job of communication, and learn some of the tips and tricks that can help you take your scientific presentations to the next level.

Technical Poster Design Seminar

One of the mainstays of technical communication, the scientific poster offers a compact and powerful format for sharing your work with your peers. Yet, sometimes, even the most brilliant results can be obscured by poor layout or design.

This session covers the basic rules of good poster design and some of the most effective tools and techniques for creating technical posters with quality and clarity. Numerous examples of good and bad poster design are critically reviewed.

Sponsored by the NISE Network, National Science Foundation and Materials Research Society Foundation

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Career Development

Alaina Levine of Quantum Success Solutions offers popular career development sessions at MRS Spring and Fall Meetings. 

Marketing Your Value

No matter what job you are in and what career you choose, you will always have to market yourself and “sell” your ideas – you will have to appropriately and clearly articulate what your innovations are (whether they are technical or business in nature or both) and how they will inject value in to your organization. You will have to stay on message and communicate your mission in terms of the overarching goals of the team and company, and judiciously elucidate your well-researched explanation of the return on the investment that your stakeholders can expect. In this workshop, we delved into the strategies for communicating your ideas and brand (your promise of value) in such a way that your constituents want to learn more and can visualize how your innovative attitude will benefit them. In marketing yourself appropriately you will be able to find and mine new and potentially hidden opportunities for career advancement.

Tech Entrepreneurship 101 for STEM Professionals: Identifying innovations and networking nodes to advance commercialization

What does it take to commercialize a great idea? What is the difference between great scientific ideas and great scientific innovations? What is the role of the STEM professional in a startup? Learn the basics of tech entrepreneurship, from identifying and fostering inventions for commercial viability to finding monetary support to fund your company. One area of our focus was on identifying the proper networking nodes and implementing networking strategic plans to gain access to hidden opportunities, actors, capital and other resources to ensure that your venture is successful.

Developing Your 30-Second Value Statement (aka Your Elevator Pitch)

I have a brand and you have a brand. A brand is simply a promise of value and every successful professional and company is successful in part because they know how to articulate their brand. The ability to communicate your promise of value is vitally important for not only crafting your own career path, but also for finding out about hidden opportunities and jobs. In this workshop, we learned the fundamentals of branding as it relates to career development and planning strategy. We worked together to develop your own 30-second brand statement which you can use in networking, and informational and job interviews.  Discussed the connection between brand, attitude and reputation, and why every interaction with someone affects how people perceive your brand. Attendees left this workshop with the ability to elucidate your own brand to whomever you meet, giving you a critical competitive edge in your career and the job market.

Having the Right Stuff: Outstanding Resumes/CVs for Outstanding Career Opportunities in Academia and Industry

Resumes/CVs don't get you jobs, they get you interviews. Attendees learned the secrets of making your resume/CV one that stands out from the crowd, ensuring it will actually be read, and articulates your value to the organization and your field.

10+ (Surprising!) Ways You Can Use LinkedIn to Advance Your Career and Profession

You may already have a profile on LinkedIn and perhaps you have sent some colleagues an “Invitation to Connect”. But what’s next? How can you use and leverage this critical tool to explore career paths, connect with decision-makers and potential collaborators and mentors, establish your brand (promise of value), amplify your reputation, learn important skills, and position yourself for the job of your dreams? In this workshop, attendees learned about how LinkedIn is utilized by successful people in your profession and field and how it is used as a hiring technique to identify potential candidates for positions. Attendees also discovered various valuable features to LinkedIn, many of which are often overlooked and misunderstood. Attendees emerged with specific steps you can take to improve your profile and its visibility, but also with a way of developing your own customized strategic plan to optimize your presence on LinkedIn for triumph in your career and in science.

Networking for Nerds/Network Yourself to a Great Career

It’s elementary—networking is an absolute necessity in any career, and especially in science and engineering, and math. In fact, networking is not only critical to advancing your own career, but also to advancing scholarship itself. But what exactly is “networking”? It’s more than just saying hello at a conference! Learn how to appropriately promote yourself and build a network. Attendees discovered how to "work a room", start conversations with people you have never met before, and obtain information that can set you on a path to career victory. The importance of and use of social networks was emphasized.

This session demonstrates the techniques required to take any story—whether it be a news story, journalistic article, blog entry, or profile of a scientist—to the next level. This is an interactive one-day workshop for researchers, scientists, science educators and students who are interested in journalism and science writing. Any article, science-themed or otherwise, is most effective when it tells a story. Details in the story are most vibrant when they're gleaned from interviews.  Learn More »

Sponsored by the MRS Bulletin


Interactive Workshop: Designing Sustainability into Materials Research

Many sustainability initiatives are focused on the development of technologies that minimize carbon footprint and energy use. In this interactive workshop, you will learn to expand the definition of sustainability to include aspects that limit sustainable materials development, as opposed to sustainable technology development. These aspects include materials availability, reuse, recycling and recovery. Additional aspects include environmental and human health effects, such as carcinogenicity and acute water toxicity, which can be used to screen for safer materials selection choices both in research activities and in manufacturing and production. The workshop will entail various modes of learning including presentations, videos, team discussions, and direct data access to information sources that can facilitate sustainable materials development in your own research activities. This workshop is appropriate for materials researchers of all career stages, including faculty and industry researchers, but we encourage students and early career professionals to attend. Instructors: Alan Rae, IncubatorWorks, and Julie M. Schoenung, University of California, Irvine

Real-Life Challenges and Opportunities in Sustainable Product Design Seminar

Many sustainability efforts focus on improving resource efficiency by creating materials and devices that are less energy, water and material intensive. But to be commercially viable and have a global impact, researchers need to balance adverse short-term impacts with potential long-term gains. In this session, attendees learn how to incorporate sustainability principles into your research in a more comprehensive way while considering the real-world application of these principles to product design and manufacturing. This seminar is aimed at materials researchers of all career stages, from students and postdocs to faculty and industry researchers. Instructors have included Alan Rae, IncubatorWorks, Tatiana Vakhitova, Granta Design, Ltd., and Mike Ashby, Granta Design, Ltd.