Category Archives: reviews

ISSCR Annual Meeting, 2011

Hello, remember me?!

Well, it’s been a while, and I can only apologise for the irregularity of the updates. This is what happens when you’re a final year PhD student –  you have a lot of work to do in a very short space of time, and it consumes everything – your spare time, your mind, and even your ability to dress yourself properly. Nevertheless, you probably didn’t come here to read about me whining about my project (nor my dress sense), so onwards.

One of the things I’ve been up to since my last post has been to attend the 9th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, in Toronto. As you might guess from an international conference on what one might call a ‘hot topic’, it was huge (nearly 4,000 delegates, 1,500, and some 5 million litres of coffee, I guess), and the science presented was amazing.

I wrote a report of the ISSCR meeting for the Node, a community that is designed for and written by developmental biologists (or imposters like me), part of the Company of Biologists (publisher of Development, Journal of Cell Science, Journal of Experimental Biology, and Disease Models and Mechanisms).

Since the conference was split over four days, and there was far too much to cover in one article, I wrote four reports, one for each day. Click on the following links to read the reports for day one, day two, day three, and day four.

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Reach Out (CII’ll Be There) – York Festival of Science & Technology 2011

Eagle-eyed readers of Coffee & Cake, Pizza & Beer will have noticed that in the post about Final Year Talks, I made reference to some Outreach work I took part in back in March. Well, finally, two months down the line, I can tell you about it! Hurrah!

So why the delay? Long story short, I was waiting for the publication of my write-up about it in Microbiology Today, the magazine of the Society for General Microbiology. I wrote most of the text, and it was edited and shuffled by Marjan van der Woude and Philip Kerrigan. More importantly, does this count as my first ‘first author publication’? I’m saying ‘yes’, and to hell with you naysayers. Continue reading

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Coffee & Freebies – Beyond the seminars at the UKNSCN Conference 2011

There’s a scene in that ridiculous film The Day After Tomorrow when a climatologist returns to his research lab in Scotland from a scientific meeting in India. His colleagues ask him how the conference went, and he replies “Oh, you know what these scientific gatherings are like: All dancing girls, wine and parties.”

He is, of course, joking – I’m pretty sure climate conferences are boring now Al Gore isn’t popping in as often. But in other areas of science, Conference-Land is an exciting place, and attending meetings is definitely one of the perks of the job for young researchers. They are a vitally important forum for science, where a scientific field’s top class work is presented to everyone and anyone who’s interested. They are also a brilliant place to meet new people with which to have conversations about science and other things, potentially as a means to keeping in touch in the future – an important skill which most normal people call “making friends” but is called in Conference-Land “networking” (you can even take courses in “networking”, and trust me – nothing makes you feel more like a social retard).

Anyway, this year, I attended the UK National Stem Cell Network (UKNSCN) Conference, which, as it happened, was held in York. As expected, there was some brilliant work being presented, in talks and posters alike. However, we both know that you didn’t come to Coffee & Cake, Pizza & Beer for a bone-dry meeting report – God help you if you did – so instead, here’s a run-down of what my lab colleagues (Matt & Patty) and I got up to between the talks.

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Give Me Just A Little More Time – Final Year Talks 2011

A PhD student’s lot is not a happy one. You spend your first year failing in everything you do. You spend your second struggling with a lack of motivation. Your final year is taken up rushing to get almost every figure that will feature in your thesis, cursing the days of first-year procrastination and second-year moping. Then you’re forced to take part in Final Year Talks (or what is bombastically referred to here in York as ‘Graduate Symposium’). Thanks, Science!

Past ‘Graduate Symposia’ have been splendid affairs, showcasing the department’s very best students and their excellent work. My cohort and I had a lot to live up to. Here, I’d like to give you a runthrough of my preparation and that of others. Let me take you on a journey, back in time…

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