This week has been intense and fun, as yesterday was the last day of the five-day SIP Conference (Society for Invertebrate Pathology) in San Diego California!
This society and conference focuses on invertebrate pathogens, with seven different divisions, and works in conjunction with the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.
Personally I am the most involved in the Microsporidia division, but have been attending some tremendously interesting talks across all of the divisions!
As my current postdoc work is not focused on pathogens, I presented a poster at this meeting on a side project that I did in 2013 where I surveyed local honey bees for Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae (microsporidia) in Mo’orea and Tahiti, French Polynesia. Below is a clip of my poster!
Some of my favorite talks have ranged from discussing the ‘Pathobiome (discussed briefly in this linked article)‘ to Biological Control of Bed-Bugs using Beauveria bassiana (in video form here) to Nematode behavior and host searching (nematodes are so cool!), to the talks in the symposium featuring Ann Hajek and David Shapiro Ilan’s new book “Ecology of Invertebrate Diseases” with many of the great authors highlighting findings of their specific chapters (release date is November 2017!). I also of course enjoyed hearing all of the famous microsporidian researchers discuss their work in the Microsporidian Symposium, including the work of four microsporidian researchers I hadn’t met in person prior to the meeting: Charles Vossbrinck and his work on the phylogenetics of microsporidia, Joe Maddox, John Henry (his work on the biological control of grasshoppers with Nosema locustae) and Louis Weiss’s work on human microsporidia (and of course on the similarities/differences to microsporidia in invertebrates). Here is the full meeting program from this year.
I also attended a workshop on RNAseq and Bioinformatics on Monday evening, and learned about the wonderful online GUI platform: Galaxy. This is a great platform to upload your RNAseq data and to do bioinformatics WITHOUT ANY CODING! WOW!
As the Student and Postdoctoral Chair for SIP, I was also responsible this year for organizing the youtube video contest (see all the winners here!), and the workshops and meetings for the students and postdocs. For the Student Workshop this year, we had a workshop on Science Communication- including how to work with the press and media, giving an elevator talk, and using social media to your advantage. (If you are interested- you can read more about some tips for science communication here). Then for the student business meeting, all of the students and postdocs (myself included) discussed what they would like to see in future SIP meetings (workshops on career opportunities, and scientific writing seemed to be the most popular requests!).
It was fun interacting with all of the students and postdocs, but definitely resulted in a busier conference than I’ve ever had before… it was difficult to get in my workouts- but nevertheless I succeeded with fitting some short workouts in and still have my ~ 10 year streak going (haven’t missed a day since Oct. 2007.. and that was because I was on a plane to New Zealand for almost 24 hours…)…
The other awesome part about this conference is that every year we spend half of a day going on group excursions. This year we went to the San Diego Zoo (and some folks did the Midway Excursion) – and it was a great chance to catch up with other researchers about both life and science!
In addition, every night we have social events ranging from a BBQ (this year there was no BBQ meat though which was funny- but we had fantastic tacos!), A Welcome Banquet and a Goodbye Banquet with Dancing (the last night is always the best!).
We also have a 5K run/walk every year- which I usually attend but this year I stayed at a friend’s house a bit far away from the conference and couldn’t manage to get up early enough for that… ha (5:30am wake up I think not!).
And with that, I look forward to next year’s SIP conference in Australia (I’m trying to research potential fellowships for that as I will not have my current fellowship at this time next year).