Annual Meeting Resource for Trainees



This thread is for trainees attending the Annual Meeting for the first-time to connect with more experienced/veteran trainee attendees. The intention behind this initiative is to allow first-time attendees to seek advice about annual meeting sessions or events and to network.

Additional Resources

Live Chat | Get the Most Out of Neuroscience 2017
Live Chat | Get the Most Out of Neuroscience 2017

Hi there! My name is Liz Glover. I am a senior postdoc at the Medical University of South Carolina and am in the process of making the transition to my first faculty position. My research employs virally-mediated strategies to measure and manipulate circuit-specific projections to try to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying addiction. I have been going to the annual Neuroscience meeting for over a decade now and would be happy to provide advice on how to manage your time at such a large conference, how to network at the meeting, and how to use the meeting to your advantage if you are looking to apply to graduate school or choosing a postdoc lab.


My name is Michael F. Wells from Columbus, Ohio. I am currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin Eggan. I have been attending the Society for Neuroscience conference since 2008 and have amassed a considerable amount of experience navigating the 5 days of science and social events. As such, I am looking to help any trainees who may have questions about scientific sessions related to my field, which is human and animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders. I could also be of some assistance with helping trainees find social events that fit their research interests.


Hola hola! My name is Sol Bernardez Sarria and I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela. I just began my 3rd-year (PhD) at Yale University, and am working in the lab of Michael Crair. My current research focuses primarily on the development of sensory systems, with a special interest on the role of spontaneous and evoked activity. I’ve been attending the Annual Meeting only for a few years (since 2013), but have worked closely with SfN ever since! I am here to answer any questions about the conference, the value of SfN membership, grad school applications, and anything you might want to ask.



Hi! I am a junior in college and this is my second year attending the SfN. I am a Cellular and Molecular Biology major looking to pursue my PhD in neuroscience. What advice would you offer with regards to using the meeting to my advantage to prepare for graduate school?


Some of this depends on exactly where you’re already at with preparations and whether or not you are presenting at the meeting. I’ve broken this down into two categories – one of which you likely fall into. Overall, you want to use your time at the meeting to engage with folks you think you might be interested in working with in graduate school. The goal here is two-fold: 1) Get your name out there & start getting noticed by the people who will be evaluating your grad school application; 2) Start evaluating the people whose lab you might join to see if they offer the kind of environment that is going to allow you to succeed in grad school.

You should also make sure to attend the Graduate Student Fair, talk to the folks manning the fair and inquire about the different graduate programs out there.

Option A: You have a specific research focus and know what schools / people / programs you are interested in pursuing

  • Email PIs whose research interests you ahead of time. Tell them you’ll be at the meeting and are interested in hearing about the program; invite them to your poster or the poster of the research you’ve been most involved in.
  • Meet wit PIs & grad students in PI’s labs. Convey your interests and your experiences. Ask about lab environment, ask about PI management / mentorship style, ask about whether or not PIs are taking students in a couple years.
  • When PIs or PI’s lab members come to your poster impress them with your research findings and your conceptual knowledge of the field. Indicate your potential interest in working with them. Discuss how your interests and theirs overlap.
  • Since you still have at least a year left before you apply for grad programs inquire with the folks you meet about whether or not their institution has a summer undergraduate research program which would be a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in your possible future lab
  • Ask people from programs you are interested in what else you can do to ensure you submit a “competitive application”

Option B: You don’t have a specific research focus and don’t know what schools / people / programs you are interested in pursuing

  • Sift through the Neuroscience Meeting Planner to ID talks and posters that interest you. Use the curated itineraries if your interests are still broad but fall within a few possible categories (i.e., neurodegenerative disease, cognition, vision)
  • Poster sessions are a great place to talk casually and ask people how they got started doing what they do. Find a poster or group of posters that pique your interest. Visit with the poster presenters. Find out about their research and what led them to their project. Take note of what excites you more than others and build upon that by attending more talks and poster sessions on similar topics
  • Look up recent papers of presenters. See if they interest you further to begin to narrow your focus. Use your experience at this meeting to begin to narrow your focus so that next year you are well-prepared to seek out graduate programs that offer excellent training in your area of interest


Hi! I’m Mychael Lourenco from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am currently a Research Associate at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro under the supervision of Profs. Sergio T. Ferreira and Fernanda G. De Felice. My research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of memory failure in Alzheimer’s disease. I have been attending the SfN meeting for several years now (since 2009) and have been recently working as a Trainee Advisory Committee member. As our annual meeting approaches, I’d be really glad to help trainees find sessions and activities related to their fields/interests. I can also help you with any sort of information about the SfN meeting you might need. Please connect with us. SfN wants to hear you.
I can also be found on Twitter @mvlourenco.


I should also add that you should check out the curated itinerary for undergrads, which can be found under “Trainee Resources” on the Neuroscience Meeting Planner website. I would especially encourage you to attend the poster sessions listed here. These are particularly good resources for peer-to-peer mentoring with other students at your level as well as graduate students who just went through the application process you are preparing for.