Attending the 2019 ASCB EMBO meeting

By Lauren Adams

In December, the Biochemical Society awarded me a travel grant to attend the 2019 ASCB EMBO meeting. I am a final year PhD student in a small lab, so being able to travel to an international conference without depleting my research budget was an opportunity for which I am very grateful.

The ASCB EMBO meeting was a fantastic experience, which took place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. With over 6000 attendees, it is one of the largest cell biology conferences in the world. As well as hosting hundreds of talks and thousands of posters, the event runs career development sessions, exhibitor talks, and most of the top academic journals are represented there. The topics of the talks and poster sessions really do spread the depth and breadth of cell biology meaning that there is plenty to go to, whatever your research focus is.

For me, the real benefit of attending the ASCB meetings is getting to network with the rest of my field, and get feedback on my own research. My PhD is based in a lab that studies the cytoskeleton (the structures which help cells maintain their shape and organisation), but my research quickly took me in the direction of nuclear biology. Whilst I have a great supervisor who has supported me following the science wherever it goes, nuclear biology is not her area of expertise! At this conference, I got to talk to other researchers in nuclear biology, including those at the top of the field. I was really humbled by how many people took the time to come to my poster and discuss my work. I received so much helpful feedback and guidance, ranging from experimental suggestions to publications that I may have missed. The information I’ve brought back has really shaped the direction that my PhD took.  

In addition to all of the exciting science, I had the chance to explore some of Washington D.C. I visited Capitol Hill, Chinatown and the Christmas market in the city centre. One evening I also took a guided tour to Georgetown – D.C.’s oldest neighbourhood. My favourite attraction overall was definitely the Natural History Museum, so much so that it took two visits to see it all! I particularly enjoyed the “Mass Extinction” exhibit, which contained skeletons, fossils and displays of all different life going back millions of years. I also loved the live butterfly pavilion which you could walk through, it was beautiful!

About the author:

I’m a PhD student at the University of Exeter, currently in my final year of study. I attended the 2019 ASCB EMBO meeting in Washington D.C, USA. This annual meeting, run jointly by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), is one of the largest cell biology conferences in the world.

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