Conference season continued this month with a week-long trip to the West Coast for the biennial Society for Research on Biological Rhythms meeting which was held in a new location: Big Sky, Montana. Words and pictures cannot describe the serenity and natural beauty of this place. During the many hikes that we took throughout the week, I was constantly reminded of how powerless humans are relative to environmental forces.
If I would have taken one step further towards the roaring waterfall pictured below, I would not be writing this at the moment.
The science of the meeting was absolutely wonderful. For me, the conference began with organizing and managing trainee day. This year the keynote speaker was Mich Hastings–former President of SRBR–who is well regarded as a scientist and educator. I really enjoyed Dr. Hastings journey to rhythms work which began on an unexpected, unchartered path of studying invertebrates at a marine biology research station. The most important take-home message of Dr. Hastings’ keynote was to remember that research comes before teaching, all the time. This is not to say that one should neglect their teaching responsibilities, but that at the end of the week, more time should be spent focusing and thinking about research questions over exam questions.
On Sunday, the regular scientific program of the conference began. While most of the talks were not as eloquent and well organized as those of the Gordon conference, there was a wide variety of fascinating work at the basic and translational levels. Somehow people are managing to keep funding rhythms research despite the fact that funding is at an ultimate low. The big focus of this meeting was SCN coupling–understanding how regions of the central circadian clock communicate with each other through the re-investigation of previous work and introducing new neural networks–as well as metabolomics: a buzzword for sure.
For me, my first oral presentation at an SRBR meeting went very well. I was extremely nervous because of speaking to an audience of experts, but the talk really captured interest in my research pursuits of understanding the mechanisms through which the muscle and the brain communicate to influence sleep. My datablitz was also a hit, poking fun of hashtags and Instagram selfies. Needless to say, my brain was overwhelmed by Tuesday evening. The highlight of the meeting was certainly the closing banquet where once again, the Glass lab made a statement. Just check out these pictures below. They may or may not be the most important mode of career development for someone on the job market.