Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar by renowned chemist Debra Rolison. Coming in to the seminar, I honestly had no idea what to expect; even though I knew the premise of a seminar, I had never actually attended one. To ease some of my anxiety of attending a seminar, I asked my friend from my scholars program, Ethan, to accompany me.
When we arrived to the room that the seminar was taking place in, a kind-looking woman opened the door for us and greeted us. “Gentlemen,” she said politely, as Ethan and I entered. Little did we know that that woman was actually a research leader at the U.S Naval Research Laboratory with 39 U.S patents to her name, as well as over 225 published research articles: Dr. Rolison, herself.
When Ethan and I sat down, we looked around at the other people attending the seminar. Everyone else there looked like a PhD student or faculty member, and we were pretty sure that we were the only undergraduate students there. As Dr. Rolison started her presentation, I was able to follow along pretty well. She was discussing her research on the zinc-air rechargeable battery, and how she changed the structure of the battery from a linear barrier between the anode and the cathode, to a porous zinc sponge that had more surface area and, thus, the ability to transfer more electrons. While this was all very interesting to me, I was only able to understand what she was saying for the first 20 minutes. After she was done discussing the general idea of her research, she started to dive deeper into the advanced chemistry that made her battery possible. Despite my “extensive” chemistry knowledge from my AP Chemistry class in high school, I was incredibly lost.
Even though I may not have been able to understand what Dr. Rolison was saying, I was definitely able to appreciate the complexity of her research. Her sheer knowledge and expertise in chemistry was fascinating to me, and I was mesmerized by her eloquence and confidence when speaking on the topic. Despite chemistry not being my major, this seminar inspired me to strive for greatness in my own field of computer science. Another thing that I found captivating about Dr. Rosolin’s research was that she was revolutionizing the field of science. Her research has the potential to completely change the science of the modern-day battery, and I think having that sort of power in knowledge would be an awesome thing to accomplish.
In the future, I would definitely love to attend more seminars. I think that I would find a computer science seminar even more fascinating, since I would most likely be able to understand more than I was able to in the chemistry seminar. Seminars also seem like great opportunities to network and learn more about topics that I would not necessarily learn about in the classroom.
Coming in to college, I had no intention of pursuing a master’s or PhD. However, after learning about research in my survey course, as well as seeing what research looked like in seminars, my interest in pursing graduate school has been sparked. That being said, a lot can change in three years, but it is definitely not out of the picture. Overall, the seminar was a great experience and I’m looking forward to attending more in the future!