Our annual retreat was October 18-20, 2019 at the Stanford Sierra Conference Center at Fallen Leaf Lake, Tahoe. The retreat featured two keynote talks by Dr. Mark Yarborough, Professor of Bioethics at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Dr. Ed McCleskey, Scientific Officer at the Chan- Zuckerberg Initiative. The question and answer session following Dr. Yarborough’s talk on “Connecting the dots between research reproducibility and rigor and research ethics” fostered a robust conversation with the audience. 25 current Trainees and two new Trainers to our Program gave oral presentations. In an effort to enhance transparency and reproducibility of research findings, following the FASEB pilot project, we required Trainees to use “Rigor Emojis” to convey methodological information on their slides: https://www.faseb.org/Science-Research-Conferences/Transparency-and-Rigor-Initiative.aspx
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 oral presentations. We also video recorded each oral presentation and to allow for self-assessment of their presentations,
shared these videos with each Trainee via a secure YouTube video link. The retreat was well attended, with over 100 attendees, including 27 Program Trainers, 25 Trainees, 27 first year graduate students from our various affiliate graduate groups, 13 graduate students from Trainer
labs, 7 students from the UC Davis PREP Program (funded by NIH award R25 GM116690), and 2 senior undergraduate students from the UC Davis MARC Program (funded by NIH award T34 GM083894). Trainers, other graduate students in Trainers’ laboratories, and the undergraduate MARC students presented posters. During the Saturday luncheon, career development tables were set up to foster interactions between faculty trainers and attendees, focusing on topics ranging from lab rotations (which is of main interest to first year graduate students), teaching assistantship, predoctoral fellowships, finishing thesis, interviewing for postdoctoral positions, and job opportunities in the biomedical enterprise. Overall, the retreat provided a conducive environment for all attendees to participate and engage in stimulating discussions not just during the scientific sessions but also in the in-between spaces such as meals, and coffee breaks, and afternoon free time.