Ni Hao! As I eagerly await my arrival to Taipei, Taiwan, for the Biophysical Society thematic meeting, Single-Cell Biophysics: Measurement, Modulation, and Modeling (June 17 – June 20), I thought that I would try to be productive with my time on this 12-hour flight to write this brief introductory post rather than spend my time dreaming of beef noodle soup, fried egg pancakes, potstickers, bubble tea, stinky tofu, shaved ice desserts, etc. (I think you get the idea; I really enjoy food). This is my first international conference, and I am very excited and honored to be able to share my research and immerse myself in this highly collaborative environment – to hear the inspiring works of researchers from around the world as well as engage in a fluid exchange of scientific ideas. I would also like to express my appreciation and thank the Biophysical Society for the opportunity to blog over these next few days. In addition to stuffing myself fueling myself with all of the street food that Taiwan has to offer, my colleagues and I will be covering this thematic meeting, providing our unique prospective and sharing with all of you readers the new experimental, computational, and theoretical advances that are emerging within the field to help provide a more complete understanding of the intricate and dynamic biophysical forces that instruct single-cell behavior.
A little about me, I am a Bioengineering PhD student conducting stem cell research at the University of California – Berkeley. What particularly attracted me to this international thematic meeting – beyond the intimate relevance to my doctoral research of developing new engineering methods to study how extrinsic niche cues guide stem cell fate decisions at the single-cell level – is the opportunity to interact with a community comprised of such diverse perspectives: biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers. I think about single cells every day – single adult neural stem cells to be exact – as I’m sure that the other researchers attending this meeting do as well. And just as each cell that comprises a tissue is distinct, defined by its own gene expression signature and shaped by different forces and experiences, each scientist/engineer here provides his/her own unique perspective to this meeting. We are all driven by different motivations, bring with us different skillsets and goals. Just as I aim to understand the heterogeneity of adult neural stem cell behavior, I look forward to learning from each of the attendees and immersing myself in the rich diversity of experiences brought here to Taipei.
Speaking of which, this is not my first time to Taiwan nor is this my second or third. Being half Taiwanese, a significant portion of my family still lives on this island, and I hold dear the beautiful culture that has been and always will be a part of my life. But this trip is different, and I’m excited. I’m excited to experience Taiwan with a scientific mindset. I’m looking forward to attending all of the talks and poster sessions, perhaps with a red bean bun (or two or five) in hand or a heaping serving of Taro ice cream.
Olivia J. Scheideler (University of California – Berkeley)