I only just made it to SFN 2017…but I am very glad I did!
Back in the spring when I found out my abstract was accepted for a dynamic poster, I did the math. I would be 8 months pregnant at SFN. I figured I would plan on going and if something changed last minute, someone else from my lab could present my poster. However, it has been smooth sailing and not only did I present my research, but I was an official blogger and ran a professional development workshop on science communication.
As a blogger, I had a great time listening to people’s research stories just because I was curious. In previous years, I have stuck with posters and talks in my tiny subfield, plus my friends’ presentations. This year, I found myself seeking out posters that sounded like the presenters had an adventure making the research happen and posters and talks on topics I was curious about. This led me to finding about crocodile fMRI, data quality in human fMRI and stem cells, among other things. I did not actually blog about my subfield, multisensory processing, and that was really fun!
Differently from years past (this being my sixth time at SFN), I made a specific effort not to overbook myself. I still did, but not to the extent I have before. Instead of adding things to my schedule and finding I had 5 places to be simultaneously, I was more selective and preemptively removed things from my schedule to make sure I could go to the talks, posters and events that mattered most. This strategy worked well. I did not feel like I was missing out on events, nor did I accidentally miss anything I absolutely wanted to be at, all while not being totally overwhelmed. By Wednesday afternoon when I presented my poster, however, I was still exhausted as usual.
Overall, SFN 2017 helped me to become a better science communicator and prepare for my next step as I wrap up my PhD studies. I stepped outside my subfield and friend group to see a huge swath of new neuroscience topics. I am reenergized and full of new ideas for my own research. I have made several new connections with wonderfully kind and thoughtful people. I gained confidence in my writing, speaking and leadership abilities. All in all, a very successful five days!
Annual Meeting Blogger