Driven by a thirst for knowledge, Ada Yonath Ph.D. began the research that would lead her to win the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Now 11 years later, as an accomplished expert in her field, Yonath will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming 16th International Conference on Emerging Technologies for a Smarter World (CEWIT2020) on Nov. 5.
For aspiring scientists who share the same passion about their work but are also concerned with the application of their research, CEWIT2020, hosted by the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) at Stony Brook University, is the intersection of ideas and opportunities. Internationally renowned scholars and industry leaders will gather to present research and ideas on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and computational medicine.
Because of COVID-19, the conference is online for the first time since it began in 2003. Participants can join the one-day event at any time through the event-streaming platform WHOVA, by registering on the center’s website. Speakers will host breakout sessions, medical panels and exhibitions in different “rooms” simultaneously.
Kathleen Ferrell, associate director of industry outreach and special programs at CEWIT, said that she anticipates a bigger crowd with the virtual setting.
“The maximum that we were able to accommodate was somewhere around 220,” Ferrell said. “Now, we’re unlimited.”
CEWIT provides a unique platform to connect research with real-life applications. Attendees can hear from venture capitalists and investment bankers, and ask questions during panels and discussions.
“Maybe you’re in the field that [the companies] are interested in and they’re looking for an intern,” Gina Alpi, the event and project coordinator of CEWIT, said. “They can connect with you one-on-one and directly send you a message.”
The center has a history of acting as a bridge between academia and the technology industry. Companies are keen to collaborate with Stony Brook University because of the facilities and pool of talents it holds, according to Shmuel Enov, director of healthcare and medical technologies division at CEWIT.
“Our facilities on campus are very appealing to investment companies,” Einav said. “We have laboratories, big lecture halls…we have the bridge for the companies and the campus.”
Some collaborations have materialized through the center’s incubator program, which absorbs many Stony Brook students and provides job opportunities on Long Island.
“We are their feeder school,” Rong Zhao, director of CEWIT’s software systems division, said.
Both the medical and healthcare fields have gained extra attention this year as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, there will be panels where experts from the medical and biotechnology fields will present their studies and expertise.
“Half of the projects that are being done in CEWIT are related to medicine or life sciences or healthcare,” Zhao added. “It’s not necessarily how we treat or prevent COVID, but more on what’s the technologies’ role from policy setting to clinical practice.”
Stony Brook’s medical and dental schools are also involved in some of the projects by assisting in the clinical research. Experiments that required “wet lab” would be processed in the laboratories of the two departments.
But the event also taps into the vast network beyond the university.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an international organization dedicated to advancing technology, co-sponsors the conference and brings in a wider audience through its professional network. Its membership consists of experts across disciplines, ranging from broadcast technology to intelligent transportation systems.
Satya Sharma, the executive director of CEWIT, said that the conference is not only for “students from the engineering field, but students across disciplines from many universities.”
The organizer of the conference, or the Center for Excellence, is evaluating the online format as a potential long-term configuration of the event in order to accommodate more participants and expand its reach.
If it works, more students may be inspired by scientists like Ada Yonath, who offered advice to researchers and innovators alike.
“Go after your curiosity and passion,” Yonath said. “Sooner or later it [will] lead to application.”