Ever wonder what it’s like to attend a conference abroad? Members from TEMIM and CMRL labs had the opportunity to experience it earlier this month. Graduate students Sana Nasim, Brittany Gonzalez, Daniel Chaparro, Andres Rodriguez, Alexander Williams, and Manuel Perez attended the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics (WCB) that took place in Dublin, Ireland from July 8 to July 12. They were joined by faculty members Dr. Hutcheson and Dr. Ramaswamy.

What is unique about this conference is that it is held once every four years. It is the premier meeting for everyone worldwide working in the field of biomechanics.

Our BME students had the opportunity to present their research through both poster presentations, as well as oral presentations. Between their presentations, students attended lectures based on their respective research concentrations.

While at the conference, the SB3C (Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference) chapter of the US assigned students a faculty member from their respective field. Graduate student Sana Nasim had the opportunity to grab lunch with her assigned mentor, who gave her valuable advice with regard to academia and future careers related to her interests. Sana recalls, “My mentor said one thing about work/life balance that I will never forget, ‘Don’t find balance, just juggle through and you will eventually find a way to do it all.’”

Sana, along with Brittany, Alexander, Andres, and Daniel, were awarded a WCB 2018 Student Travel Bursary Award during the conference. This competitive award was only given to 12 people out of roughly 6000 applicants, and FIU proudly brought home nearly half!

Students learned a great amount while at the conference, including how to address questions about their research, how to give oral presentations in front of researchers in their field, how to network, and how to address themselves to senior research. But most importantly, they learned about past and current research within their fields, as it is constantly evolving.

Faculty members also played a great role during the conference. Both Dr. Ramaswamy and Dr. Hutcheson chaired sessions at the meeting titled “Bioreactors and Biofabrication I and II”, and “Biomechanics of Vascular Tissue Engineering”, respectively. “A lot of planning goes into the meeting,” said Dr. Ramaswamy. “Behind the scenes, I reviewed abstracts, helped plan sessions, and invited keynote speakers for my sessions.”

Although our FIU BME team was in Ireland for the conference, a trip abroad would not be complete without exploring the city. Students and faculty members used their free time to tour Dublin, as well as Ireland’s countryside. “It was an amazing experience and had a wonderful time with everyone I traveled with. The memories and moments spent with the group I traveled with are irreplaceable,” said Brittany.

As for advice for future conference goers, students advise: “Go with an open mind. Be ready to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t stress. Most importantly—have a good time and see all the beautiful places that the city has to offer.”