First virtual SGRS event great success

Zoom screenshot of event
By: Erin Philipson

Graduate students in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering hosted the virtual Sibley Graduate Research Symposium (SGRS) on Friday, April 30th, 2021. The student-developed event featured a keynote talk from Nicole Sharp ‘09, a science communicator that specializes in fluid dynamics and student talks on a range of topics from sustainable energy, to human-robot interaction, to spacecraft engineering.

The new virtual format was a huge success thanks to the SGRS committee which included Kalani Danas Rivera, president,  Sean Kim, corporate liaison, Kasey Laurent, marketing strategist, Carlos Diaz, treasurer and Corey Spohn, event coordinator. Elaine Petro, assistant professor in the Sibley School, also played a large role in making the webinar-style event possible.

SGRS is intended to provide a space for graduate students in the Sibley School to share their research and discoveries and provide conference-like experience. Each year, the symposium features a different alumni keynote speaker. 

"The ongoing research in Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is extremely diverse,” says Kalani Danas Rivera, president of the SGRS committee. “So much so, that even the grad students in the Sibley School are not completely aware of all the exciting research that is taking place. SGRS is an environment where students can learn from their peers and appreciate the many research endeavors in the department."

Over the years, alumni from a range of industries have participated, including Riley Schutt, the Innovation, Research & Development Performance Analyst for the U.S. Sailing Team, Jacque Cole, an assistant professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and Veronica J. Santos, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA.

This year, Nicole Sharp spoke about her academic journey while highlighting key personal experiences along the way. At the end of her Ph.D., Sharp was faced with the same question that many doctoral students ask, academia or industry? In her talk, Sharp shared the experiences and adventures she had from her non-traditional post-Ph.D. career choice. 

Sharp is the creator of FYFD, a popular fluid dynamics blog and YouTube channel featured by the New York Times, Wired magazine, The Guardian, Science, NPR and others. In addition to blogging and making videos, Nicole runs her own science communication consulting company, sharing her expertise in crafting scientific narratives with researchers, companies, and students.

“As an alumna, I was delighted to have an opportunity to come ‘back’ to the department and share some of the lessons I’ve learned,” says Sharp. “When I was in grad school, the only paths I imagined were pursuing an academic faculty position or taking a job in an engineering company. I hope my story helps current Sibley students imagine broader opportunities for themselves.”

The Symposium also presents awards for overall presentation, oral communication, scientific rigor, and drafting the future. This year’s winners include:

  • Overall Presentation – Grant Rydquist for his talk titled “Spectrally Accurate Simulations of Red Blood Cells in Unbounded Flow”
  • Oral Communication – Doga Yucalan for her talk titled “An Optimal Navigation Filter for Relativistic Spacecraft”
  • Scientific Rigor – Michael Suguitan for his talk titled “Crowdsourcing Affective Robot Movements for Generating Behaviors with Neural Networks”
  • Drafting the Future – Walker Lee for his talk titled “Geoengineering the Climate: Exploring Limitations and Possibilities”

“The ability to communicate research is at least equally as important as any technical skill that our Ph.D. students gain during their time here,” says Petro. “SGRS is a student-led initiative to both show off the great research that is happening in MAE and the ability of our students to communicate their work. We are incredibly proud of all of the participants and organizers and congratulate them on another successful event!”

The event was sponsored by Corning and Sixth City Marketing. 

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