Thursday, November 18, 2010

Live from San Diego (airport)

I didn't have a chance to write a decent post this week because I was away in San Diego for the most glorious scientific event I know: the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). I will resume regular programming shortly, but in the meantime, here are some highlights from the conference, in no particular order.

- The conference attracts over 34,000 neuroscientists and people wanting to sell stuff to neuroscientists. There were about 16,000 poster presentations. The event lasts 5 days and at any given time there can be a dozen talks going on. It's sometimes very hard to chose what to see. The Geek Meter registers very high.

- The opening session was a presentation by Glenn Close. She talked about her advocacy group for mental illness,
Bring Change 2 Mind. She did a great job and I was moved. On a side note, she does NOT look 63.

- One of the highlights of SfN for many graduate students is the incredible amount of swag one can collect simply by feigning interest in a variety of products. The floor space for vendors is the size of a small city. This year I didn't have much time to go through it all, but I still managed to come home with two T-shirts, a mini laptop mouse, a notebook with a depiction of the
Wnt pathway on the cover, and several pens.

- I would say that the two major themes this year were sensory (vision, olfaction, etc.) and Alzheimer's disease, even though there is definitely something there for everyone. There was also a big focus on
optogenetics. My personal opinion is that optogenetics will revolutionize the field of medicine.

- Celebrity scientists are called scilebrities and can be spotted everywhere. The conference also organizes a number of socials for every field of neuroscience where you can narrow down your schmoozing to the scilebrities that work in your area of interest. You can usually judge how well a field is doing by the quality of the catering. It's a bit of a running gag.

- San Diego can pretty much be summarized in three words: fish tacos and tequila.

- As surprising as it may sound, neuroscientists know how to party. You're just going to have to trust me on this one.

I already can't wait for next year. See you soon for a post on how to keep colds at bay.

One response to “Live from San Diego (airport)”

Barbara said...

Ooo, wish I qualified for that conference! As it is, I might make the geek threshold but not the optogenetics. (See, I don't even know how to use it in a sentence.) I'm also good for a recipe for fish tacos - look through the middle column on my blog.

On the downside of a recent cold, I look forward to learning to not get the next one. (TherExtras)

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