Live Chat | Get the Most Out of Neuroscience 2017



Join the #SfN17 Live Chat | October 17th at 12:00 p.m. EDT

Whether you are an annual meeting veteran or you are attending for the first time, proper planning is key to a successful experience. From lectures and poster sessions to professional development workshops and the Grad School Fair, this live chat will showcase the different types of learning and networking opportunities at the meeting.

On October 17th from 12-1 p.m. EDT, facilitators will discuss tips on:

  • Understanding different types of events
  • Taking advantage of professional development and networking opportunities
  • Planning your schedule in advance

Participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance of the live chat in the discussion thread below. You are also welcome to direct your questions to specific facilitators by tagging their usernames: @Marguerite @heimanchow @Alexandra


Marguerite Matthews, PhD
Marguerite Matthews is a 2016-2018 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. She previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Oregon Health and Science University. Matthews’s main interests lie in programs and policies impacting the biomedical research workforce. She earned her BS in biochemistry from Spelman College and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh.

Kim Heiman CHOW, PhD
Kim Chow is a research assistant professor in Prof. Karl Herrup’s laboratory at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She is currently a volunteer of both the Trainee Advisory Committee and Trainee Professional Development Award Selection Committee of Society for Neuroscience. Kim’s research focuses on unveiling the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and Ataxia telangiectasia. She earned her PhD in medicine and pharmacology from the University of Hong Kong and her first postdoctoral training in biomedical engineering form the Cornell University. She is currently an Alzheimer’s Association research fellow, a fellow at the neuro-technology and brain science council of the World Economic Forum and a junior fellow of the institute for advanced study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Alexandra ColĂłn-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Alexandra Colón-Rodriguez is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Davis. She holds a dual major Ph.D. in Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology, and Environmental Toxicology from Michigan State University. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Universidad del Este-Carolina, Puerto Rico. Colón-Rodriguez graduate research in the lab of Dr. William Atchison focused in understanding the toxicity of an environmental neurotoxicant, methylmercury, on spinal cord motor neurons. Currently, her postdoctoral research in Dr. Megan Dennis lab is using zebrafish as a model to characterize epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder candidate genes that are involved in synaptic function.

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Hello everyone! My name is Marguerite and I am looking forward to sharing some of my “SfN Like a Pro” tips with you! I have attended every SfN annual meeting since I was a first year graduate student (over 10 years!). With over 30,000 attendees each year, the meeting can be quite intimidating and/or overwhelming to navigate. But I hope to help provide guidance on how to create a plan to get the most out of all that’s offered and have a FUN and fulfilling time doing it :slight_smile:


Hello everyone and welcome to the chat! My name is Alexandra and I’ve had the opportunity to attend the SfN Annual Meeting since I was an undergrad until now, a postdoc. Along with my colleagues leading this chat, I would like to help you identify ways to get the most out of the meeting. My first few times attending I was overwhelmed and I missed opportunities for professional development and presentations because I did not make use of the resources the society provides. We will be answering your questions and sharing tips about ways to navigate the meeting and the resources that are available to you. I hope that you can join us and take some of our tips to make the most of the meeting.


Hello everyone! Welcome to the live chat. My name is Kim and I have been attending the SfN meeting since 2013 when I switched my research field of interest from cancer biology to neuroscience. The Annual Meeting of the SfN is a great opportunity for us, not only to learn the most updated science in the field, but also allows us to catch up some of the skill sets which are deemed to be useful for career development, yet seldom been taught at schools. Speaking from my own experiences , the contents of the SfN meeting are always valuable and useful in many ways, but sometimes the flow of information is a little overwhelming and dazzling. No hassles! Today, Marguerite, Alexandra and I will be on this live chat to give you ideas and tips on how to navigate through the meeting contents, and plan ahead before the actual meeting. Join us, and see you later at noon today.


Hi Everyone,
I would like to thank our speakers today for sharing valuable information regarding the annual meeting. It can be overwhelming. I would like to gather thoughts/opinions about the following:

  1. Science or networking? Should you be more involved in creating valuable relationships or finding out the latest scientific developments in your field of study?
  2. How to avoid burnout by the end of the second day? Can you share tips for staying engaged?
  3. How to meet the absolute one contact that you need to meet? Poster, approach after talk, etc.

Thank you for your input,


Hi people! My name is Hugo, one of the most amazing things about the neurosciences meeting is that you are able to talk with the protagonists os the science, you can share your ideas, comments and questions with people who ara doing the same as you and everybody (at least in my experience) is happy to help you and hearing your comments. I recommend have a nice itinerary by day with the most important topics for you, do not try to see every thing (I tried once and trust me, is impossible!!). I will see you later


Welcome to the Neuroscience 2017 Live Chat! Post your questions for all of the live chat facilitators or to specific facilitators by tagging their usernames: @Marguerite @heimanchow @Alexandra


What’s a reasonable number of events to plan for single day?


Hi, Michelle. I am going to answer your second question. To avoid burnout during the early days of the meeting, the best way I would suggest is do plan ahead on what are you going to see each day. Indeed, mostly for the first half day of the meeting, there is free time to get a bit familiar around the venue and in case you haven’t start planning, that will be a great time to do so. Try not to stuff too many things within a day, plan ahead the route, wear a good pair of shoes to walk around, and mostly importantly rest up if you know you have a busy day ahead.


Hi Michelle,

With regards to Question 1, I think you should first establish what you hope to get out of the annual meeting and what are your priorities. Are you looking to share your research, get new research ideas, learn about new techniques, get technical assistance on an area of interest, network to find a position, boost your professional development skills? Once you determine what it is you need/want out of the meeting (be it scientific vs professional development/personal branding), you can construct a an itinerary that allows you to do the most important things first, and if you have time and energy, you can do the others. You shouldn’t try to do everything, but you may want to give yourself a few options if you have time and want to explore more. Ultimately, the meeting should be what YOU make it.


Submitted question:

This is my first time attending a conference. I am also fairly new to neuroscience so my knowledge within this field is very basic at the moment. Should I focus more on attending lectures rather than visiting poster presentations?


Where do I find out the schedule for the shuttle busses? The preliminary programs says it will be available over the summer.
Ed Monsell


Hi @ajuscoman Hugo, I completely agree with you! We recommend that people have a schedule by day and that is one of the best ways to get the most of out the meeting. Do you use the SfN meeting app? I also highly recommend that because of the reminders.


What are the best opportunities for undergraduates to network with companies that will be hiring in the spring?


Great advice, Kim!

I would also suggest to take breaks when you need to. Find a place to sit and regroup, and evaluate how things are going and if you need to make adjustments. Get fresh air, and use your “free” time to connect with colleagues - new or established. Coffee breaks, lunch time, and dinner are a great times to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the convention center but also to network!


Alright, for question number 3. I would say first of all, if you have someone want to meet in your mind, do check if he/she is coming to the annual meeting, you can always look up the abstracts and see if his/her lab is presenting. A more straight forward way is to email that faculty in advance before the meeting, and see if they have open schedule for a meet up.

If you do not have someone in your mind, I would suggest, go check out the posters because often when a student or postdoc is presenting, very likely their advisors will be standing by.

Anyhow, do prepare yourself before approaching a potential advisor and give them good impression. It’s always good to do more homework and know more about their science in advance.


Hi Ed! Janel here from SfN. The shuttle schedule is available on our web site at The shuttle schedule can also be found via the Shuttle icon in the mobile app.

Check out the At the Meeting section ( of as well for important onsite information. We look forward to seeing you in DC!


@delson - I don’t think there is a magic number for how many events to attend in a single day. This will vary from person to person based on one’s interests and capacity to get from place to place. And this may also vary day to day depending on what’s going on. I find it quite tiring to see posters, because the exhibit hall is so big and I often go back and forth. It’s much less cumbersome to see nano and mini-symposium talks because I am sitting and listening.

All that to say - put as many things on your itinerary as you think is reasonable and feasible for you. You can always add more if you find that you’ve breezed through everything on your list quickly. Or if you feel overwhelmed or too tired, prioritize your list and go to the ones most important. You don’t have to do/see it all!


Submitted question:
As a Master’s student and a first-time attendee I hope to get more information on how to easily navigate the meeting area and how to get the most out of graduate program fairs.


Hi, I would say that the best opportunities to network with companies would be by going to the exhibitors and also during the companies socials, and if you are interested in learning about opportunities you can always visit NeuroJobs, that is where the available positions are posted and you can schedule an appointment with the recruiters because they usually are interviewing the days of the meeting.