In the first of our series spotlighting MSA Student Success Stories, we spent some time learning more about MSA Student Member, Elliot Padgett and his area of research.
I got my undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College with a major in Physics and a minor in Computer Science. After graduating in 2013, I came to Cornell University to earn my PhD in Applied Physics working with Professor David Muller.
Current research focus:
I use transmission electron microscopy to study electrochemical energy materials, especially nanoparticle fuel cell catalysts. This is a great field to be in as an electron microscopist, since I get to use a wide variety of techniques, including electron tomography to study 3D morphology, EELS and XEDS spectroscopy to study composition and chemistry, and diffraction and aberration-corrected imaging to study atomic structure. Developing and deploying new characterization techniques helps us push the boundaries of the science.
Attending the annual Microscopy and Microanalysis (M&M) conference has been a great professional opportunity. There's no better way to get up to speed on the state of the field and learn who is working on what than going to M&M. It's big enough that it covers a huge range of topics, but small enough that you can get to know people in the field and have a chance to talk with people working on similar problems and techniques.
Advice to new graduate students:
Putting in effort and attention to build good collaborations can be one of the most important factors in your success and happiness as a graduate student. Modern science is typically complex and interdisciplinary, and researchers, especially in microscopy, depend on collaborators to provide samples, make measurements, and understand results. Good collaborators can inspire you and help you learn and accomplish much more than you could on your own. So avoid bad collaborators, who may be unreasonable, selfish, or unhelpful and seek out people that you get along with and have abilities that can help you achieve your research goals. And of course all collaborations go both ways, so you have to make sure that you are a good collaborator yourself.
Interesting personal note:
Outside of graduate school I enjoy making pottery, like mugs, planters, and lamps at a local community ceramics studio. This has been a hobby of mine since high school. When I got started doing microscopy in graduate school one thing I really enjoyed was the craft aspect of making TEM samples with the ultramicrotome or polishing wheel. It can be fun to use your hands and the right set of tools to make something, and the sense of satisfaction from making a really good sample can be similar to that of making a nice mug.
MSA Student Bursary Program for M&M 2018
Once again, MSA is offering the student bursary program for the Microscopy & Microanalysis 2018 meeting. Students are encouraged to attend the annual meeting with the opportunity to offset some of the meeting costs. Many Student Council officers and members started their M&M experience as student bursars, which is a great opportunity to interact with peers and assist the society throughout the conference. If you would like to participate in the student bursary program for 2018 to help offset your meeting costs send an email to Student Council at the link below. Registration will open in spring 2018.
Questions about the bursary/volunteer program or would like to participate contact:
Janet Gbur - Student Council President
Building our Student Community - Encourage Student Involvement
One of the key features of membership in MSA is the potential for leadership experience on local and national levels. Building a student community and student-centered programming is a major focus for MSA as is professional development of young scientists. Take a moment this month to renew your student membership or encourage colleagues to join and enjoy the benefits of MSA Student Membership! There are multiple ways to connect with the MSA Student Community - Like and follow Student Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, visit our webpage on
or email us at
The MSA Student Council (StC) is organizing the 2nd annual Pre-meeting Congress for Students, Postdocs and Early-career Professionals in Microscopy & Microanalysis (PMCx60), to be held on the Saturday preceding M&M 2018 in Baltimore, MD.
The PMCx60 is a one-day conference organized by and for students and early-career professionals, and offers a highly interactive forum for participants to share cutting edge research, network, and engage with peers ahead of the main meeting.
The StC is soliciting financial support from the MSA community, and welcomes corporate sponsorship and donations from individuals/organizations to help build the future of microscopy and microanalysis.
Please consider sponsoring, donating to, and attending the 2018 PMCx60 in Baltimore, MD. To learn about the benefits of being a PMCx60 sponsor, email the StC at
, or donate to the PMCx60 via the MSA donation page (
, include "PMCx60" in the "Donation Made by:" field).