After 17 Symposium talks, 238 minisymposium talks, 112 ePosters, 2400 posters, and an unknown number of Philly cheesesteaks, the 2014 ASCB Annual Meeting is now in the books. And even though all traces of the 5,760 attendees are already gone from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, hopefully we will all bring home ideas, inspirations, and new connections with colleagues.
One of my favorite parts of the meeting was the chance to connect with other postdocs and students. While it was exciting to hear about their research, it was also a chance to hear how others are navigating the training experience in research, and how they are facing their next steps in grad school, postdoc training, and beyond. The ASCB meeting featured a multitude of resources for professional development; including career panels, a networking happy hour, round table discussions, and the COMPASS Open Forum.
The COMPASS Open Forum was an opportunity to learn more about COMPASS, ASCB’s Committee for Postdocs and Students, and also a chance to voice opinions on critical issues in the training experience. About 45 of us attended the Open Forum on Monday morning and brainstormed the topics most important to trainees. What support do we need as trainees? What would make the training experience better? And, what could the ASCB do to help? Attendees wrote their ideas on Post-It notes, then stuck them to the wall. We then arranged them by topic and boiled it down to a few major themes: career development, outreach, mentorship, networking, publishing, work/life balance, and funding. Specific suggestions included financial resources to attend meetings, resources for outreach to the community (see current COMPASS initiatives!), training on communication and conflict resolution with mentors, help with how to become a mentor, information about careers outside academia, and support in career transitions.
The ASCB has approximately 9,000 members! As students and postdocs, it can be easy to feel small in this huge organization. But for students and postdocs, COMPASS is your entry point! Consider joining COMPASS to be part of this dynamic and diverse group. Or, contact us with your specific ideas! Students and postdocs are the fastest growing group in the ASCB, and are a high priority for the mission of the ASCB.
REMINDER: Entries for the science writing contest sponsored by COMPASS are due December 17! We want your essays (up to 1,500 words) on the topic of “Challenges facing the biomedical enterprise.” There are CASH PRIZES! for the top 3 winners ($500 for first place!), and the winning essays will also be published on the ASCB COMPASS blog.