2017 Annual Retreat

Our annual retreat was held October 20 – 22, 2017 at Fallen Leaf Lake, Tahoe.  Dr. Mark Winey, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Dean of the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis gave the plenary talk on his research on the discovery of Microtubule Interacting Proteins in Tetrahymena.  The talk included a discussion of his graduate experience, role of his graduate students in the research presented, as well as advice on how to be a successful and productive scientist.

The retreat was well attended. Of the 125 scientific participants, there were 29 Program Trainees, 26 Program Trainers, 39 first year graduate students, 3 undergraduate students from the MARC program (funded by NIH award T34 GM083894), 3 students from the NIH PREP Program (funded by NIH award 1R25GM116690) as well as students and postdocs from Trainer laboratories.

The highlight of the retreat was the fantastic oral presentations by our Trainees. 29 Trainees gave talks. We included a real-time Survey Monkey based evaluation link in the scientific program to enable participants to provide anonymous feedback on each of the Trainee talks. We also made video recordings of each of the student presentations, to provide them to the Trainees and their PhD advisors through a secure YouTube link.  In an effort to enhance transparency and reproducibility of research findings, starting this year, in conjunction with NIH, the FASEB Science Research Conferences piloted the use of uniform graphics/badges (“rigor emojis”) to convey methodological information in conference presentations and posters (Silberberg et al., Nature 548:153, 2017). In a similar vein, we requested our Trainees to include these rigor emojis on their slides to convey complicated information efficiently. Trainees used custom rigor emojis as appropriate to their own projects, and defined them during their presentation and also included the symbols in the lower right hand corner of their title slide. Examples of rigor emoji use was to convey when samples were randomized into comparison groups, when samples from males and females were treated separately or together, when samples where blinded, when appropriate sample sizes were calculated, etc. There was also a poster session which provided an opportunity for Trainers, graduate students in Trainer’s laboratories, and undergraduate MARC students to present posters. Click here to see our 2017 Annual Retreat Schedule and Scientific Program.

During the career luncheon at the retreat, Trainers interacted with the attendees on topics ranging from lab rotations (which is of main interest to first year graduate students), teaching assistantship, predoctoral fellowships, finishing up thesis, interviewing for postdoctoral positions, and job opportunities in the biomedical enterprise.  Overall, the retreat provided a terrific opportunity for all attendees to participate and engage in stimulating scientific sessions.