Scientific Meetings: Sharing and Learning Science Outside the Lab

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Image courtesy of PITTCONN

As a graduate student, I spend most of my time working tirelessly in the chemistry lab trying to advance the science of drug screening and discovery. What began as a question driven by scientific curiosity matured, through the scientific process, into a well-defined research idea and produced fruitful results. Soon the time arrived to share what I learned with my peers. And, what better way to do it than to attend a scientific conference?

While a lot of work goes into developing an idea and testing a hypothesis, it is equally important to present and clearly communicate your results to a community willing to listen, learn and contribute to the overall scientific endeavor. Every researcher is primarily responsible for his/her own research, and knows the ins and outs of his/her project. However, science is not an isolated environment but rather a dynamic atmosphere where communication is important to foster collaborations. This is why scientific conferences are so important.

There is a wide range of scientific conferences for every major scientific field offered year-round in many locations throughout the U.S. and abroad.

This past March I attended PITTCON, the world’s largest annual conference and exposition for laboratory science, where I presented a poster about my research.  During this four-day event, I attended seminars led by faculty members, graduate and post-doctoral students from U.S. institutions and international institutions, and many researchers from pharmaceutical companies such as Merck and Pfizer.

As a presenter, I found myself challenged to explain the significance of my results in a clear and concise manner, always bearing in mind the diversity in background of my audience. As an attendee, I found a great forum to ask poignant questions and learn about the science happening outside my lab directly from the sources involved in it.

Large scientific conferences in chemistry, such as PITTCON, cover a vast umbrella of topics ranging from drug screening to environmental contaminant detection. In contrast, smaller conferences with a specific research topic focus offer a more intimate experience for a select few attendees.

This year’s PITTCON conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, and naturally I enjoyed a lot of Cajun-style cuisine and the surrounding French colonial architecture. Overall, I found this experience to be highly rewarding and an excellent opportunity for students both at the graduate and undergraduate level to learn and grow.

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