David Toribio, a recent LEFT lab alumnus, describes his experiences at the 2013 IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference in Osaka, Japan. David presented research results from his MS thesis. He is now enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Miami. Read David's article here, and view his presentation slides here.
I really enjoyed my trip to EMBC '13 and would really recommend anyone to attend EMBC conferences, in the future. I am hoping that I can attend many more EMBC conferences in the future, even if I am not presenting or publishing work. The conference was a great source of inspiration for me, to keep pursuing my Biomedical Engineering (BME) degree, and to try to keep doing my best in the field. I was really amazed about how many different topics were covered in EMBC. You can really get to learn about the major findings in all the topics related to BME, in this conference. And even better, you can get to learn about these topics from the most experienced scholars in the field. Since my favorite BME sub-field is neuro-engineering, I signed up for the International Neuro-Technology workshop, which was held during the opening day before the conference started. Last year, when trying to decide about which school to apply, for pursuing a PhD, I read about the projects of many of the most successful researchers in neuro-engineering. So, it was very exciting for me to see that many of these researchers that I had read about, were giving talks in this neuro-engineering workshop. Moreover, I really liked this workshop, because I was also able to learn about the latest findings of one of the most experienced researchers in opto-genetics, which is one of the main technologies used in my PhD thesis.
Fortunately, our project was selected for an oral presentation during the conference. For me, this was a pretty nice experience, since this was the first time that I ever had an audience from so many different places in the world. Presenters were given 15 minutes to present their projects. I was especially happy, because one of the professors that I met when applying for PhD program, saw my name in the conference program, and went to say hi to me, before I presented. Co-incidentally, we figured that we are both working now in the same subject: trying to design a neuro-prostheses for the treatment of Meniere's disease. During the conference, we were able to discuss our different approaches, and now we hope that in the future, we are able to aid each other.
EMBC is definitely a great place to find collaborators, get your research peer reviewed, learn about new ideas that can contribute to your project, and help other people with their projects. This conference was also an opportunity for me to meet other graduate students in the field from all around the world. The conference offered many activities aimed to help students socialize, such as dinners, baseball game trips, and sightseeing trips. I was only able to attend the dinners, because most of these activities had limited availability, and students needed to pre-register for them; before the trip I didn't have time to look at the detailed student program of the conference, until the day before departing. So, I suggest everyone that is planning to attend this conference in the future, to take enough time before the conference, and pre-register to the academic and cultural activities that you are interested, and that have limited space.
As far as the cultural enrichment I was able to experience during this trip, I have to say that it really exceeded my expectations. I only spent about a week in Japan, and only was able to explore Osaka, but now I am hoping I can come back and travel around the entire island for at least a couple of months. I was amazed about how Japan, and the Japanese way of life is so different to the countries I had lived and visited so far. For instance, I really enjoyed the food in Japan. I thought it was so healthy and tasted really good. Also, I was really impressed about the politeness of the Japanese people. It was interesting to see that sometimes when they salute you, they bend their heads down a bit, as a gesture to honor you. I felt that in general, Japanese really care about the well-being of everyone, and really value each and every person. It was also very nice to see how clean, modern, and prosperous seems to be Japan. It was very interesting to see that there is practically no poverty, nor homelessness in Japan.
Here are some more photos: