Getting the Most Out of the Annual Meeting



I have one more question. Would you recommend attending sessions/trying to see posters or being present at discussions in unfamiliar topics or subspecialties/areas of neuroscience that might be within the interest of the individual but in which he/she has limited experience or knowledge? Would that be a good way to get the most out of the annual meeting or will it not be productive and a good investment of time at the meeting. Thank you.


The NeuroJob Career Center is an excellent resource for employer/employee connections. Even if the company isn’t present at SfN, if your information is uploaded to the system, you can still be paired with your future career!


Great question! Since you are an international student, you may want to network as much as possible with labs in which you may wish to work at a later date. Spend time creating a list of labs that you really like and then go spend time at their posters to discuss the research but also discuss whether the lab will be hiring in the next 2-3 years and that you would be interested in keeping in touch. Then at next year’s meeting you can reconnect. Starting a list of potential labs you would want to work in is a great start when you are a junior graduate student. Preparation is always key as timing is important when you are international.


That is a problem, and there is so much good science to see that it might just happen. First, I would check to see if the same person or lab has a poster on a topic similar to a symposium or mini-symposium. That way, you might not have to worry about making it to that limited time talk, but instead could inquire about that research at another time. You could also check NeurOnline or inquire at the SfN booth as to which presentations will be video recorded and then become available online at a later time.


The benefit of attending the conference in my opinion is the network you begin to build. So prioritizing opportunities for actually talking and meeting with people in your area of interest is important. This can help for your future career development but also you can connect with these individuals during the year outside of the meeting. Going to talks and nanosymposia in unfamilar areas might provide a different perspective but you may miss opportunities for delving deeper into your area of interest by interacting directly with people that work in that area. Since there is so much to see, I would favor being more focused that diffuse.


Attending poster sessions are a great way to expand your scientific knowledge. Not only will you have the opportunity to (most likely) speak to the scientist who performed the experiments, but unlike mini symposiums, you can ask more than one question! If time permits, poster sessions can be an opportunity to ask elementary questions about techniques and data.


As it will be teeming with tremendous scientists and prominent researchers all over, i think i might feel really intimidated as some of the people whose research i am interested in are really influential people in the community. Will researchers like that overlook my lack of experience or is it natural or probably right to be rather hesitant?


We have all been where you are, and some of us are still there! All prominent researchers have at one point been an undergraduate student, graduate scholar, postdoc and new faculty. As a junior postdoc, I’ve come across both individuals who remember they were once in my shoes, and ones who expect me to know more. Both are OK! But hesitation does help us to learn more and grow in our perspective fields. You may not know everything, but you definite do know somethings, maybe better than many others! If you expressing that you are eager to learn more, I would be hard for even the most senior scientist to see that as a fault.