It’s been a while since I wrote a restaurant review and given all the great food I had in San Francisco, I’m inspired to present my final thoughts on this year’s meeting a la carte style….take what you like.
Science: The science was obviously the best part of the meeting. I enjoyed all the sessions I went to, though it was unfortunate that the East Coast storms prevented some of the speakers from attending the meeting. The big talks from Carlos Bustamante, Steven Chu, and the Award winners were all very interesting. The poster sessions were really well organized and made it easy to browse by your topic of interest.
Social: I was highly amused and slightly shocked at the post-National Lecture reception and dance. I guess those biophysics professors have got some moves! The ice cream and wine probably inspired people to rock out a little to live band as well. It was highly entertaining all around. The one thing I would like to see different next year is for the dinner meetups to start after the talks have concluded. I would have loved to go eat with some attendees but I wasn’t able to make it before the session ended. Some sort of lunch socializing (perhaps with a food order?) would have been awesome as well.
The Venue: I have always liked the Moscone Center area in terms of ease of transportation, nearby food, and the lovely Yerba Buena gardens right next door. I’m glad the meeting was held here and I hope everyone had a chance to explore the surroundings. Next year should be great as well with the Baltimore Convention Center sitting next to the fabulous inner harbor.
The Sides: I loved the Quartzy networking cards that made it really easy to keep track of the posters you visited and the people that you talked to. I will have to present next time just so I can get a few of my own. On the other hand, the phone app for the meeting could definitely use a few tweaks. The extra features, like the check-ins and messaging, were nice but the main purpose of the app is to make it easier to plan your day. It was a little user-unfriendly when it came to scheduling sessions or simply figuring out what room a talk was in.
Exhibit Hall: This part is probably a little biased because I got a good amount of swag (and candy!) from all the vendors. The photo contest and daily trivia were great add-ons as well, and I connected with plenty of aspiring people at the Graduate Institutions Fair. I wonder if there are plans to expand the variety of side activities for next year. It would be enjoyable to have a science communication contest of some sort such as the ever-growing three minute thesis competition.
Overall 5/5 Stars: It was a really good time and I enjoyed sharing it with all of you on the blog and via Twitter. I hope to do it again next year in Charm City!