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By Szabolcs Rembeczki*
The author with the invited roundtable panelist Professors.
The third CAM (Canadian-, American-, Mexican Physical Societies) graduate student conference was held in August of 2007 in the beautiful historical city of Montreal. With its old-world atmosphere, Canada’s second-largest city is also famous for its cosmopolitan mishmash of cultures. The meeting itself was hosted by McGill University, where Ernest Rutherford performed his famous experiments together with others like Soddy.
The CAM conference series is organized with joint support from the Forum on Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA) of the American Physical Society (APS), the Sociedad Mexicana de Física (SMF) and the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP). This time the organizing committee consisted of physicists from Canadian universities ( McGill U., U. of British Columbia, U. of Montreal) together with representatives of physics organizations from each of the three participating nations.
The first CAM conference was organized in Merida, Mexico (2003), and the second meeting was held in San Diego (2005). The CAM physics graduate student conferences provide an opportunity for students of North American universities to share their diverse research experiences from various fields of physics. These conferences also promote collaborations, which are becoming more and more important in today’s global physics society. International scientific meetings, such as CAM conferences, also provide graduate students with insight into different physics societies, representing today’s extending international character of physics.
Plenary sessions, held by invited physicists from the three countries, opened the student presentations on each day. These sessions brought up interesting topics from various subfields, such as physics at the energy frontiers or biomedical imaging and therapy at the Canadian Light Source, just to mention two. The wide variety of student presentations ranged from several branches of experimental physics, theoretical physics, applied and technical physics to subjects from astronomy and cosmology. Besides these oral presentations, a poster session was also organized with poster topics not only from research and development in physics, but also from physics applications and education. This poster session and the coffee breaks between the talks gave participants opportunity to chat with each other and to exchange experiences from different countries.
A roundtable panel discussion called for attention to the problems and solutions for the next generation of physicist. This discussion highlighted exciting directions in physics, education, and also the important contributions of physics in multidisciplinary science, which is becoming more and more predominant. The invited panelists, Professors Castillo, Dilling, Finkelstein and Marchildon, also addressed current questions, issues, and challenges in physics and discussed them with the participating students. Issues of funding, opportunities for women in physics, importance of physics education and its development, inclusiveness, career paths, and the problems of academic career-couples were topics of great interest. These issues are especially relevant and important from the point of view of the future of present graduate students.
Before the end of the conference, a banquet was held on the last evening, giving everyone a taste of the nightlife of Montreal, which is one of the liveliest cities in North America.
As a conclusion, this 2007 meeting of physics graduate students in Montreal showed the importance and usefulness of the CAM conference series in promoting international collaboration in physics, and in sharing experiences of physicists from different countries.
* Szabolcs Rembeczki received his M.S. in Physics from the Kossuth University, Debrecen, Hungary and is now a PhD candidate at the Florida Institute of Technology.