Attending CLEO 2019 was an eye-opening experience. I was able to learn about so many emerging technologies such as LIDAR, light detection and ranging, for autonomous vehicles and metallic nanoparticles used to cure cancer as well as cutting-edge research being performed around the globe. The caliber of speakers at the conference was quite incredible with talks from researchers at top universities and industrial labs, but most impressively the 2018 Nobel Laureates Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou.
The poster session was great primarily because it challenged me. I had to present on research performed in the short duration of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) to experts in optical science and engineering. Since I had no previous experience, it was very intimidating, but after talks with very friendly scientists my butterflies were partially suppressed. Their pointed questions and conversation helped me gain a deeper understanding of the work, its applications and other lasers operating in the Mid-IR.
The presentations and conference as a whole were very inspiring and have reinforced my desire to continue learning about optics and photonics. I would love to attend CLEO in the future and hope that other undergraduates from the UAB REU Experimental and Computational Materials Research program get to experience conferences like it. I am very thankful for my mentors Dr. Vladimir Fedorov and Dr. Sergey Mirov, the graduate student from the lab and the UAB REU program for providing me this special opportunity.