Clinton Global Initiative University Conference 2014
Last weekend, I attended the Clinton Global Initiative Conference (CGIU for short) at Arizona State University. CGIU is the part President Clinton's post presidency career where he engages college students from around the world and challenges them to make commitments to action. Commitments to action from students have ranged from creating recycling programs at universities, to creating sustainable farms in Neoal. Last year, a colleague from my research lab (Matt Pavlovich) and I traveled to CGIU in St. Louis for the first time to present our work. Our research is primarily focused on low cost plasma disinfection, and housed in the laboratory of Professor David Graves of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. At last years conference, we were able to get a lot of feedback on not only the content of our project, but how we presented it. We were also fortunate enough to present our project directly to President Clinton and be interviewed by Stephen Colbert.
As we prepared for the conference this year, Matt and I focused on making sure our poster and handouts were comprehensible to someone not familiar with plasma physics jargon, one of the main lessons we learned from the previous year. We also brought our prototype medical instrument disinfection device (powered by plasma of course!). At the poster session, we almost lost our voices due to how busy our booth was, but it was well worth it due to all the publicity we received for our project. We also attended several sessions, including ones moderated by Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton. On the last night, Jimmy Kimmel even dropped in to interview the Clinton family.
The way the conference is structured, Friday and Saturday are reserved for the informational and working sessions, while Sunday is reserved for a day of commuinity service. This year, attendees from the conference worked to turn an empty lot in Phoenix to a community park. My group was responsible for painting several wooden panels with art, which gave us a great deal of creative license. Not knowing what else to paint, Matt and I decided to give a shameless plug for science. We (to the best of our abilities) painted DNA, plasma discharges, chemicals, planets, robots, and calculus.
I had a great time participating in this conference. My only regret is that I won't be able to participate next year because I'm graduating!