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Gateways 2023 Perspective: MD Ashraful Goni (Supported Student)

By: MD Ashraful Goni | Texas Tech University

On October 29th, when we arrived at the Landing Hotel for Science gateways, it was crowded with Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Our hotel was just in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers' home ground, Acrisure Stadium. As an NFL fan, it was an amazing atmosphere for me, and I was getting a vibe that this conference would be a fantastic experience. My prediction was right, and I came back with some fantastic experiences and, most importantly, an aspiration for innovation, research, and collaboration.  

I am a social scientist, and my research interest is in interdisciplinary work related to innovation, communication, and how innovations spread through communication in society. I am the student lead of the Innovation Diffusion Lab (IDL) at Texas Tech University, and our work is highly focused on an interdisciplinary and multi-methodological approach. Science Gateways 2023 was my biggest opportunity to meet with researchers, scientists, and developers from different disciplines, learn more about their works, get feedback on my research, and look for potential future collaborations. I think Science Gateways 2023 delivered it all. 

Let's start with the keynote speaker. First of all, all the keynote speakers were amazing, and they were addressing all my questions and interests. The first featured talk was presented by Dr. Alex Wright, titled "Design for Understanding." Dr Alexz's talk resonated with our lab's current research project, where we are trying to understand science gateway user experience through usability studies. In our usability study, the user interface plays a significant role, and our findings are similar to the critical points of Dr. Wright's talk. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and took some insight from his talk to develop our user experience studies. 

On the second day, Dr Wendy Nilsen presented her talk titled "The Challenge of Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Can I Collaborate on My Own? This talk was also very connected to my research philosophy. As an interdisciplinary researcher, I have faced many challenges working with colleagues from different disciplines. Different people in other disciplines used different types of language and jargon. I learned from her that effective communication is essential in interdisciplinary research. Our work style, language, and jargon might differ, but at the end of the day, we are working to achieve a common goal through collaboration and research. Identifying and working through a common goal is very important for interdisciplinary work. This talk is very insightful for understanding the science of cooperation. 

On the last day of the conference, Dr. Joe Palca shared the importance of science communication. As a communication student, I have always admired science communication. Any scientist needs to communicate with a broader audience in layperson's terms. I also learned that as a scientist, I must share our remarkable findings with the broader audience if I work on a publicly funded project. I am also fascinated by the examples he provided in his talk explaining the importance of scientific communication. The most exciting thing is that all the speakers designed their talk in such a way that is wholly focused on interdisciplinary work, innovation, and our responsibility to society as scientists. 

At this conference, I presented a paper titled "Challenges Faced By Medical Professionals as Gateway Users: The Case of KnowCOVID-19" and a poster titled "Can Chat GPT be a Science Gateway? A study on gateway developers." I also gave a small presentation on my Bangla AI project in the Bring Your Portal session. I got some amazing feedback and two awards for best student poster and overall best poster. I am grateful to every conference attendee for their valuable votes and for making this conference one of the most memorable conferences for me. I have also learned a lot from their feedback. 

To conclude, I have participated in many conferences in the last couple of years but never attended one like the Science Gateways 2023. For me, it was a fantastic learning experience. I have learned so many things from all the presentations and talks that helped me to improve my research and innovation philosophy. This conference taught me things that are impossible to learn in a classroom environment. There were also amazing presentations from industry experts. I have also thoroughly enjoyed the small hackathon we had to brainstorm how to build a science gateway to solve an existing problem. The conference logistics team did an excellent job regarding accommodation, food, and entertainment. I would always love to participate in the Science Gateways conference. I am eagerly waiting to join the Gateways 2024 at Bozeman, Montana.