Half way through BPS16 and Hollywood

HannaBarriga photoTime is flying by here in LA and we’re already half way through BPS 2016. The sheer breadth of exceptional research presented here is impressive and it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about topics outside of my own speciality. This morning I went to the ‘Biomimetic Models for Study of Cytoskeletal Organisation’ symposium. For the non scientists this is essentially modelling, building and controlling the complex network of filaments and tubules that act as a ‘skeleton’ linked to the cell membrane which is essential in a variety of processes including structure, cell division and signalling pathways. There has been a vast amount of progress in this field in recent years and there were some fascinating and inspiring talks discussing how we can build similar systems from scratch in the lab to model and further understand fundamental processes.

Another great aspect of the conference is that the Biophysical Society organises multiple talks and activities for professional development and education. These include speed networking, advice on grant writing and Q&A sessions for every career level. Today I went to a panel discussion on the Science of Hollywood given by ‘The Science and Entertainment Exchange’ which is a program to connect industry entertainment professionals with top scientists. I had no idea what to expect but loved it and it raised lots of interesting questions. In the scientific community there can often be criticism of the accuracy of science in films and it was great to get a new perspective on it. From a Hollywood perspective, the story is understandably key and the science might be a secondary consideration as long as it it sufficiently plausible. I discovered that this can be partly due to the stage at which the consultation occurs – close to the end of a project there may be little room for changes however fantastic the science could be. However, if there is opportunity from the beginning of a project, then science really can inform and shape the story. The talk also presented the idea that film might be a great opportunity to promote science. As scientists we know how ‘normal’ we are, but how much do we promote this during our outreach projects to dispel any preconceptions other people may have? It inspired me to add a short paragraph about me as a person to my blog. The science will always be the main focus and drive for my career but it doesn’t hurt to mention I’m a relatively normal person too.

Tonight is the national lecture followed by the conference reception and dance. Hopefully see you there!

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