Running Journal from an SfN Meeting First-Timer: Day 4



I’ll be keeping an online journal during SfN 2017, detailing the experiences of a first-timer. This is the fourth entry, Tuesday, November 14

The days have started to run together a bit. When I sat down to start writing I couldn’t quite remember what had started the day. It was actually a symposium on the role of astrocytes in disease.

There were two graduate student presenters in this symposium and I was really impressed with their poise and confidence. I’m comfortable speaking in front of people but watching them lecture to experts in the field was awe-inspiring.

Then more posters. I know I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy the student poster sessions in previous journal entries, but today I had the pleasure of discussing computational modeling with a couple of different students. I am just getting introduced to this field and find it fascinating (so much so I have registered for an introductory course on coursera) and while some of what they discussed went over my head, I appreciated them taking time to walk me through it. I’m looking forward to jumping into the material once SfN is over.

After lunch I attended another symposium.

day 4 tweet 1

I honestly went into this series of talks intrigued, but not expecting to be as engaged as I ended up being.

day 4 tweet 2

That’s weird… I’ve never read nor thought about NMDARs as anything more than ionotropic receptors. Any down-stream mechanisms to back up these claims?

day 4 tweet 3

Okay, now I’m intrigued.

The rest of the symposium added on to these findings and provided additional evidence for other metabotropic effects of NMDA receptors. I was blown away.

day 4 tweet 4

Before the afternoon symposium I assumed my last blog post would be focused on the astrocytic activity in disease. I may return to it eventually, but the unconventional roles of NMDARs stuck with me to the point that I can’t help but explore it more. It challenges how we currently look at NMDARs and their role in synaptic function and plasticity.

I have enjoyed all of the lectures at SfN so far, but this symposium was the one I am most excited by. It will lead me down a new and exciting path and just goes to show you never know from which direction inspiration will appear. I didn’t expect that symposium to grab me the way it did, but I am so glad I went!

I ended the day with an advocacy reception. I am part of a couple of outreach and science policy groups on campus so it was nice to discuss those issues with fellow communications enthusiasts and take a break from the hard science for a bit.

Lows from day four:

  • There were a couple of posters that I wanted to discuss but the presenting authors were not around when I was - totally understandable, there’s a lot going on and I couldn’t be there when they were, just a bummer

Highs from day four:

  • The unconventional role of NMDARs symposium
  • Talking advocacy and science policy for a bit!
  • A brief introduction into a field I’m hoping to explore was fantastic and I’m grateful to the students that patiently walked me through their research

Tomorrow’s journal entry will be an overall discussion of my experiences as a first-timer at SfN where I’ll provide thoughts on the conference as a whole. Be sure to come back for the wrap-up!

Eric Lumsden

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