26 July 2015-30 July 2015
This past week Dr. Friesen, Colleen and I attended the Plant Biology conference through the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) in Minneapolis, MN. The conference highlighted plant research in areas such as development, plant-microbe interactions, plant-insect interactions, biochemistry, abiotic & biotic factors, and genetics. We each presented a poster of our recent work and interacted with other scientists. I received a Bio-Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) travel stipend from the NSF to attend this conference—it was for former students of REUs to display their work at a conference of their choice.
Minneapolis is beautiful and surprisingly clean. They have an efficient rail system for long distance transportation (and it’s only $1.75/ride), electric buses, and recycling at every turn. Most of the buildings downtown are connected via a skyway, which is unique to Minneapolis. Without ever going outside, you can walk across town and visit a series of shops and restaurants. I can imagine this is a huge perk during the brutal Minnesota winters.
We listened to the major symposia speakers and had choices of mini symposia with different featured disciplines in plant research. They even had a symposium on space biology! On the first day of the conference, we were asked “What do you want to learn at this meeting?” and Colleen and I wrote “Take legumes (with rhizobia) to space.” Someone from the Space Biology program actually tweeted a picture of our response! P.S. I now have a Twitter handle thanks to Dr. Friesen, so follow me @OKmicrobe.
The most rewarding part of the conference for me was networking. Coffee breaks and poster sessions allowed me to speak to my peers at the conference about my research, and my graduate school interests. I gained advice on new contacts, how to apply to graduate school, where to apply, and what life is like as a graduate student at some of the schools I’m interested in. I also got to meet several professors, including one from the University of Minnesota! On the last night of the conference, there was a party in Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall—I never knew plant biologists loved to dance.
Overall, the conference was a learning experience for me and I am thankful to have attended. Now, back to work…