The 65th Annual Gaseous Electronics Conference (GEC) will be held at the AT&T Conference Center right here in Austin – and ASE/EM Associate Professor Laxminayaran Raja received the honor of organizing this premier scientific gathering. The weeklong conference will draw over 400 people during the week of October 22, with over half of them coming from different continents.

Raja was approached to organize this conference in 2010 by the Executive Committee of the GEC. The committee selected him based on his excellent standing in the plasma field, long history of publishing high quality research, recommendation from his peers, and recognition of his strong organizational skills.

“We are quite excited that Dr. Raja was invited to host the APS GEC,” said Professor Noel Clemens, ASE/EM Department Chairman. “This honor is a testament to Dr. Raja’s high standing in the plasma physics community. The conference also provides us with an opportunity to showcase the great work that is being done here at UT to a broad international scientific audience.” 

On top of his research and teaching, Raja has clocked as many as two hours per day on average organizing the conference. His tasks have ranged from selecting the venue and organizing the scientific content of the conference to more mundane tasks such making menu selections for the reception and awards dinner. Raja has also worked to find sponsors to finance the conference, some of which will be used to help cover the costs for students who will be attending.

Donors for this year’s conference include the National Science Foundation, United States Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, as well as a host of other large industrial sponsors.

Despite the generous donations from the government and companies, Raja heavily credits the ASE/EM Department for its in-kind donations. Scott Messec from the department helped Raja get the conference website up and running and regularly assists with mass email communications.

In addition to technological support, Raja has been aided by a local committee that includes Professor Philip Varghese, University of Texas Dallas Professor Larry Overzet, conference organizer Saralyn Stewart, and Peter Ventzek and Mirko Vukovic, both senior researchers at Tokyo Electron Limited.

This year’s conference will hold four workshops – a larger number of workshops than in previous conferences – in the emerging field of Plasma Biomedicine, Plasma Cross Field Diffusion, Verification and Validation of Computer Simulations in Low Temperature Plasma Physics, and Plasma Data Exchange.

“The workshops are organized and collocated with the conference,” Raja said. “It is an indication of the vibrancy of the field.”

The main conference will feature 35 invited speakers, 40 oral sessions with a total of about 250 talks, and two poster sessions with about 175 posters.  Scientists and engineers will report results on a variety of different topics including fundamental topics in plasma theory, collision physics, advanced experimental diagnostics, and computations modeling and plasma applications in nanotechnologies, biomedicine, spacecraft propulsion, and semiconductor and other materials manufacturing.

Three of Raja’s graduate students, Hariswaran Sitaraman, Douglas Breden, and Michael Pachulio, will also present their research to experts from across the world.

With the conference quickly approaching, Raja has high hopes.

“I’m hoping that this will be a dynamic, vibrant conference,” Raja said. “I’m hoping that this year, specifically, we will have two or three really interesting talks or reports from researchers that can set the field in a new direction. I want this conference in Austin to be remembered.”

For more information about the GEC, visit the conference website at http://www.gec.org/gec2012/