The Society is excited that again this year, several meeting attendees have agreed to share their experiences at the meeting with you, our blog readers. Our bloggers have a variety of scientific interests and plans for the their time in Baltimore. As a result, they will be attending and covering many of the events taking place concurrently at the Meeting. Check back often to see what they have to say about the 2015 Biophysical Society Annual Meeting!
Jason Socrates Bardi is the Director of Media Services at the American Institute of Physics. He holds graduate degrees in Molecular Biophysics and Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University and has spent his career as a senior science writer and public information officer at government agencies and nonprofit organizations that all belong to the enterprise of science, including NASA, NIH (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases); The Scripps Research Institute; and the University of California, San Francisco.
Jason’s interests range broadly from molecular mechanisms of infectious diseases to technology advances in optics and photonics with applications for medicine, art and entertainment and the communications industry. I am also particularly interested in any story that addresses poverty or other issues of social (human) justice, such as disparities in access to healthcare or technology.
As 2015 is the International Year of Light, Jason is hoping to gather some story ideas that relate to that U.N.-sponsored theme. On a more personal note, 2015 marks the 20th anniversary for me with biophysics because it was 1995 when I first moved to Baltimore and enrolled in my graduate biophysics program. I am hoping to meet up and reconnect with some of my old lab mates and friends. Since Baltimore is Jason’s old stomping grounds, he does not plan to explore the sites, but he may visit some old favorite coffee shops.
As a trained chef as well as a writer, I have enjoyed crab cakes for years, both from restaurants that are Baltimore institutions and from the laboratory of my own kitchen. I once made a dish I called “lump crab cake ravioli with deconstructed Old Bay glaze,” which used individual ingredients from the classic spice as found flavors in a light, bisquey béchamel.
In addition to cooking, Jason enjoys writing (a plus since it is his chosen profession!) and film.
Bob Brousseau (not pictured) is the Director of Corporate Communications at Peptides International, Inc. At past BPS Annual Meetings, he has been struck by the breadth of topics covered. Bob enjoys learning at least a little about areas of research with which he is not familiar. As a representative of an exhibiting company, he also enjoys meeting researchers face-to-face and learning out how his company’s products may be of use to them. Bob, along with his colleagues, try to visit at least a few local attractions anytime they attend a meeting, and the BPS meeting will not be any different. He also enjoys running around places he visits and looks forward to exploring at least a bit of Baltimore that way. Specifically, he hopes to visit the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Fort McHenry, and the Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum. He plans to share his discoveries via this blog. Bob says that he has enjoyed more Maryland crab cakes than he cares to admit—but has never had one in Maryland. He plans to have at least one while in Baltimore. Outside of science, Bob enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction, creating and learning about art and design, running, listening to music, watching old movies, traveling, and food – cooking and eating it. He also has been involved in a few national and local anti-genocide organizations and likes to volunteer when he can.
Shannen Cravens is a 4th year P.D student in the Program in Molecular Biophysics at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is looking forward to enjoying a number of great talks and experiencing the Biophysical Society meeting for the first time! Having lived in Baltimore since August 2011, Shannen has had ample time to explore the local attractions (and crab cakes) so will most likely spend any downtime she has relaxing at the nearby waterfront (assuming she isn’t needed back at the lab). In the evenings, Shannen plans to head back to the Mt. Vernon neighborhood where she lives, which is home to a great deal of fantastic restaurants, the famous Peabody Institute, and Baltimore’s iconic Washington Monument (yes, Baltimore has its own!) When Shannen is not conducting research, she also works as a freelance sketch artist, which has been a passion of hers since she could pick up a pencil. You can see Shannen’s poster presentation in the Protein-Nucleic Acid Interactions I section (poster 387) on Sunday, February 8th from 1:45 pm – 2:45 pm.
Satchal Erramilli is a 6th year PhD student in Cynthia Stauffacher’s lab at Purdue University, where he studies the structural biology of ABC transporters. You can hear more about his work at the poster session (Membrane Pumps, Transporters, and Exchangers I) on February 8th. He had a great first experiencing blogging for the annual meeting last year, and is excited to blog here again; you can read his entries from last year here. Satchal has never visited Baltimore before, and is looking forward to doing some touristy things (and will definitely be trying a Maryland crab cake). When he’s not reading or writing about science, Satchal loves watching and playing sports, particularly football and basketball. Satchal is also part of a group of students organizing a Biophysical Society-sponsored symposium at Purdue, titled “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Protein Galaxy”! Please visit the symposium website for details about the program as well as registration and abstract submission (both free).
Blake Farrow is a PhD Candidate at Caltech studying Nanoscale and Molecular biophysics and Soft matter physics. He writes, “This is my first big conference! I’ve only attended small niche ones before (GRC, etc.) and I’m really looking forward to diving into some research sessions a bit further removed from my day to day work, and hopefully getting inspired.” Blake plans to check out some of the touristy stuff around the Inner Harbor, as well as the historic harbor area near Fells Point to grab some good authentic Maryland seafood (including potentially a Maryland crab cake, which he had to Google to find out what it was.) Blake will be presenting his abstract “Letting Toxins Pick their Poison” on February 8 during the Protein-Small Molecule Interactions session. His poster will be in the late abstract section. Outside of the lab, Blake is a voracious reader and an (amateur) writer, and recently started fun new hobby: home brewing. He’s made 6 gallons of Sauvignon Blanc wine in the fall, and is in the middle of making a big batch of hard apple cider. Blake says it’s not only fun, it also allows him to apply some chemistry and biology skills to crafting enjoyable beverages. Blake has previously blogged at www.coffeenanoparticles.com, where he chronicled his year in Japan.
Philip Fowler is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. He identifies himself as a Computational Biophysicist. While many are looking forward to a particular talk or session, Philip is most looking forward to the unexpected: bumping into a friend in the queue at Starbucks or finding out the talk after the one he’d highlighted in the program is really interesting. This is the third time he is attending a BPS Annual Meeting in Baltimore, and while he does not envision having a lot of free time to explore the city, he is looking forward to returning to The Brewer’s Art on N. Charles St. (And maybe trying a crab cake for the first time). He will be presenting his poster on Monday, February 9, and joking says, “No daylight for me that day!” When asked if he has any hobbies, he writes jokingly, “Of course not, I am a serious scientist.” In fact, Philip does enjoy cycling, cooking, brewing beer and playing with his kids. You can follow Philip on his personal blog at http://philipwfowler.me.
Chitrak Gupta is a Graduate student at West Virginia University specializing in structural biology, biomolecular simulation, and physical chemistry. Chitrak’s work combines experiments with computational studies, which makes it all the more exciting and important for him to get feedback from experts at the BPS Annual Meeting. This will be his first BPS Annual Meeting. While in Baltimore, Chitrak plans to venture a little further than the Inner Harbor, by visiting both the National Aquarium (on the far side of the harbor) and the Maryland Zoo. Time permitting, he would also like to visit Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. A self-described foodie, Chitrak plans to try out a variety of cuisines while in Baltimore (for example, crab cakes!). He also likes to try my hand at card magic every once in a while. Chitrak will be presenting his poster on Monday, 9th February, from 2:45 to 3:45 pm.
Sonya M. Hanson is a Postdoc at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, specializing in Molecular Dynamics, Small Molecule Binding, Ion Channels (TRP channels). With the meeting a week away, she is looking forward to meeting up with old colleagues and snagging a free T-shirt from Avanti. She plans to check out the American Visionary Art Museum if she has time, and maybe try a Maryland crab cake. Sonya is excited to share that she is giving a talk in the Platform session: Protein-Small Molecule Interactions, on Tuesday, February 10, at 12:30 PM in Room 316/317. You can look up her abstract at 1705-Plat. Sonya hopes to start a personal blog soon, maybe before the meeting. In the meantime, you can follow her on Twitter at @sonyahans.
Parminder Kaur is a postdoctoral fellow at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her focus area is nanotechnology and biophysics. She is really looking forward to hearing some great biophysics talks, learning about new biophysics research, and meeting and interacting with new people. In her free time, Parminder plans to go the museums and explore the downtown area. Outside of science she likes to cook, learn about new cultures and see new places. Parminder’s poster presentation, Enhanced Electrostatic Force Microscopy Imaging Reveals Mechanism of TRF2 Mediated DNA Compaction, is Sunday, Feb 8, 1:45 – 3:45 PM at B611.
Yifei Yang is a PhD candidate at, Yale University studying biophysics and, spectroscopy techniques. She says that attending this meeting is a critical step in her scientific research development. She is looking forward to presenting her thesis research, communicating with colleagues about her findings, and establishing connections for collaboration and future post-doctoral training opportunities. Outside of the meeting, Yifei plans to explore the Inner Harbor neighborhood and learn about the local history. She is a big fan of both the blue crab and the dungeness crab (the former is local to Maryland while the latter is not) and would love to enjoy a crab cake as well as other seafood from the Chesapeake Bay. Yifei’s love of seafood is not surprising given her love of the water; her hobbies include curling and ice skating during winter, and rowing and swimming when the ice is gone. Other hobbies include audio editing and image design. You can catch Yifei’s poster presentation on Monday, February 9 at 2:45 PM.