Biophysicists Share Their Science in the Czech Republic

Czech Republic Networking Event, which took place on June 12, was the first event BPS-supported event to take place in the area. Hosted at the Institute of Photonics and Electronics, The Czech Academy of Sciences, the conference had over 30 participants, including professionals, graduate students and undergrads from the local area. One of the organizers, Michal Cifra, wrapped it up for our blog readers below!

Czech Republic 1The one day event was primarily aimed to facilitate networking in the region of Czech Republic where several high quality molecular biophysics groups in different research institutions are based. These groups did not have much opportunity to interact locally to fully cross-fertilize ideas and further develop their potential beyond pure biophysics towards hot topics such as bioelectronic and biophotonic medicine and other bio-inspired technological applications in photonics and electronics. “Electrostatic, Electrodynamic and Electronic Properties of Biomolecular Systems” was the scientific subtitle of the event. Main specific topics covered were electrostatic, electrodynamic, vibrational and electronic properties of biomolecules and biomolecular nanostructures with the focus on proteins and DNA.

In the first part of the event, 9 speakers, experts in molecular biophysics, bioelectrochemistry and coherent processes in biology, presented the basic concepts of their individual fields as well as their current results. In the second part, the speakers were able to networking with the attendees and have in-depth discussions during the posters session. Finally, a brief tour to the laboratories of Bioelectrodynamics research team was provided.

Czech Republic 2The speakers we had were not only great researchers, but also great lecturers who can really attract and keep attention; so their talks were very enjoyable. We learned that this kind of event provides a great format for the exchange of scientific information as well as networking. The event was really a great way to meet new people. As an organizer, I personally met not only PIs and professors but also postdocs and PhD students.

We hope to organize similar event in the near future!

Were you at the Czech Republic Networking Event? Share your favorite part of the event in the comments below!


Expanding the Biophysics Network in Kentucky

Organized by Trevor Creamer, University of Kentucky, the 4th Bluegrass Molecular Biophysics Symposium, held on Monday, May 18, at the University of Kentucky, brought together nearly one hundred people. Registrants came from KentucKYky, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, and North Carolina.

The symposium covered the broad field of molecular biophysics with talks and posters on subjects ranging from lipids to proteins and describing work done with a wide variety of techniques. The breadth of subjects covered demonstrates that molecular biophysics is alive and well in this region of the country. Creamer notes that the quality of molecular biophysics-based research being done in the region is outstanding. This was apparent from both the talks and the more than 40 posters presented.

Creamer was surprised at the number of people who have attended this symposium more than once. He found it extremely gratifying because of the distance people are willing to travel for a one day event like this. Each year, symposium attracts new people from the surrounding areas; a pair of biophysicists traveled from Western Carolina University, over 280 miles away!
Creamer hopes to host another event next year.

Were you at the Kentucky Networking Event? Share some of you experiences in the comments below!

Bringing Together Biophysicists in the Hoosier State

The Biophysical Society recently sponsored a networking event for biophysicists in Indiana. The event, titled “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Protein Galaxy: A Mini-symposium on Integrating Structure, Function, and Interactions of the Protein Universe,” was held at Purdue University on May 13-14, 2015, and was organized by Satchal K. Erramilli, Duy P. Hua, Adriano Mendes, Phillip Rushton, Brendan Sullivan, Sakshi Tomar, all of Purdue University. Satchal Erramilli reports on the event – and explains its interesting title.


Attendees mingle during the poster session.

You many wonder why we chose the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as the theme for a symposium on protein science and biophysical research. The classic novel by Douglas Adams, which we often wax nostalgic about, is an excellent work of fiction, but is also filled with concepts that can readily be applied to scientific inquiry. The book contains a long tangent on the validity of mice models, includes an excellent digression on “Somebody Else’s Problems”, and is peppered with discussions on evolution. Most significantly, the book’s most famous story – the meaning of life – is an allegory for asking the right questions, as important an exercise as any for a scientist.

And so we drew on themes from the book for our symposium, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Protein Galaxy”. We were charmed to find many attendees and sponsors shared our enthusiasm for the novel, and some of the credit for the event’s success has to be ascribed to the theme. Indeed, we found many attendees were as excited to discuss the book as they were to discuss science.

The symposium was held at Purdue University on May 13th and 14th, 2015, with the goal of bringing together protein scientists and biophysical researchers from all across campus. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we were able to expand the scope of the event to include attendees and presenters from nearby institutions and, in some cases, beyond. We had over 130 attendees, with nearly two dozen coming from nearby institutions in Indiana and Illinois, and some even as far off as Cornell, the N.I.H., and Texas Tech. This can only be described as apropos for a Hitchhiker-themed symposium.

We felt the event should reflect the depth and breadth of structural biology research here at Purdue, and thus it included aspects of protein science ranging from basic to applied, from individual proteins to whole cell studies. The presenters had backgrounds as diverse as their topics, and included several young faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, and senior graduate students. Topics ranged from protein structure and function to biophysical methods and high-resolution electron microscopy, and much more. Attendees clearly enjoyed being able to hitchhike around the Protein Galaxy during the two days of the symposium.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Protein Galaxy organizers pose for a photo.

The presence and participation of our external attendees enriched the experience for all at this event, and their interactions with local researchers offered the potential for fruitful collaborations. In particular, we recognize our keynote speaker, Dr. Tony Kossiakoff, who was an excellent guest of honor for the event and drew an audience exceeding the venue’s capacity. As an unexpected addition, and entirely a product of the enthusiasm of several of our visitors, we were able to organize an impromptu career workshop, which our graduate students found tremendously useful. We hope to have even more external presenters next time.

We definitely plan to have this event again next year. We can only hope to again receive such tremendous support from our sponsors, who far exceeded our expectations with their willingness to sponsor the symposium, the awards, and contribute in many other ways. We were thrilled to get this networking grant from the Biophysical Society, which, besides providing us with money, also provided visibility for the event beyond what we could have hoped for. A big shout out goes to April Murphy, who made time not just to assist us and help market the symposium but also to visit us and take part in our event. It was a pleasure to work with her and everyone else who helped make this a success, and we hope to see her and many others at the next iteration of this symposium. See you again next year, fellow hitchhikers!

Continuing to Bring Together Biophysicists in the Bluegrass State

The third BPS-supported Kentucky Networking Event took place on May 12 at the University of Kentucky. The event, organized by Trevor Creamer; University of Kentucky, focused on molecular biophysics and had over 80 registrants from numerous institutions including the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Cincinnati, University of Tennessee, IUPUI, Miami University of Ohio, Ohio State University, Northeastern University of Illinois, Transylvania University, Georgetown College, and Wright State University.

Trevor wraps up the event for us:

The number of registrants, the distances many were willing to travel for a one day event and the quality of the talks and posters, indicates that there is a lot of very good molecular biophysics being done on the area. I am surprised every year that people are willing to drive 4-6 hours each way for a one day event like this. I am also pleasantly surprised at the number of people who have attended all three years we have held this symposium. Although many of the attendees have participated in one or both of our previous events, we also draw new people each year. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for people to make new contacts/colleagues/friends. This certainly seemed to be occurring this year. We hope to continue this symposium annually.

Were you at the Kentucky Networking Event? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Building a Social Network in Milwaukee

wisconsin1 wisconsin4BPS sponsored the second biophysics networking event in Wisconsin on March 29 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). BPS student member, Michelle Hasse, and other students at MSOE, organized the event, bringing together over 55 scientists from MSOE, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Concordia University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Rosalind Franklin University. The attendees included undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors.

The topic of the day was the structural determination of proteins. Speakers included Jason Kowalski, MSOE; Sheeri Biendarra, MSOE; Marious Schmidt, University Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Daniel Sem, Concordia University. The event also featured three graduate student posters presentations from IUPUI and Rosalind Franklin University. Because of the intimate atmosphere of the event, attendees were able to have in depth conversations with the speakers and poster presenters about their research and make connections with those at other institutions.

Through the talks and poster presentations, the organizer hoped biophysicists from the area would be able to build relationships by sharing their research. With the jump in attendance and increase in popularity of this year’s event, students at MSEO plan on hosting another event next spring!

We’re you at the Wisconsin networking event? Let us know your favorite part of the event in the comments below.

Bringing Together Biophysicists in the Peach State

GA Networking Event

For the first time this year, BPS sponsored the Atlanta Area Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Symposium at Emory University on December 7, 2013. Organizers Khalid Salaita and Laura Finzi, Emory University, and JC Gumbart, Georgia Tech, were awarded a mini-grant to host the event.

25 speakers and 41 posters centered around the topics of molecular self assembly from in-vitro to cellular systems, force generation, sensing, transduction in living systems, and new methods in molecular and cellular biophysics. The main goal of the event was to make connections between different research groups that are spread across multiple institutions within different departments. With over 150 participants from 15 schools, this networking event was this highest attended in 2013.

Salaita hopes to put together another networking event in the Southeast sometime in 2014.

Were you at the Atlanta, GA networking event? We’d love to hear from you by commenting below!

BPS Members Host Another Successful Networking Event in Pennsylvania!

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The third BPS networking event in Pennsylvania, which took place on Friday, October 4, at Pennsylvania State University, was organized by William Hancock and Sheereen Majd, Pennsylvania State University. Over 125 people from 15 different institutions, some coming from as far as Syracuse University, participated in the event.

The program consisted of eight oral presentations, focusing primarily on motors, cytoskeleton, and membranes. Speakers included Lu Bai, Pennsylvania State University; David Hackney, Carnegie Mellon University; Fred Sachs, SUNY in Buffalo; Anatoly Zaytsev, University of Pennsylvania; Sethil Perumal, Pennsylvania State University; Megan McClean, Princeton University; Paul Cremer, Pennsylvania State University; and Haim Bau, University of Pennsylvania. With over 60 poster presentations, students, young faculty, and postdocs also had a chance to share their research and gain exposure.

The organizers plan on having another event at a different institution next year.

If you attended the networking event in Pennsylvania, let us know in the comments below!