I was at, or was represented in 3 conferences in 2 weeks (it made it a bit difficult for blogging). Just wanted to talk about some things I learned from them which I will write about in a series of upcoming posts.
Conference 1 – Postdoc Professional Development event at my current work place, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (poster presentation)
So, I gave a poster presenting new data, which was very helpful for me in thinking through my new project. It is still a work in progress, but you know what, that’s ok. Why? Because when you are just presenting a polished product all the time, you lose perspective that doing science is just one large work in progress, more than we care to admit. It is difficult discovering something new, and even harder to describe what that new thing is.
Think of it this way…
Imagine a friend posts a vacation picture on Facebook “in the car headed to my vacation. Then you see a “checking in the hotel” pic. Then a “chillin’ by the pool on vacay” photo followed by one where they venture to a magnificent beach. They explore and show even better places to visit while there. Most of us have had a friend post those pictures.
The whole trip is their vacation. But the whole trip, they are refining the destination. At the beginning the destination is to be in the car, because you know where it will lead. You think finally, my vacation is starting. But while on the beach, you would not want to be in the car because now you have seen the beach!!! You have refined your destination hoping that each one will be better than the last.
Now, for the connection to science.
The car is the start. It is the initial finding. We must publish/present that finding because just as your friend thinks people want to see them in the car (we don’t always), scientist want to know, need to know, what the initial findings are. Why, because we do not yet know what our final destination will be. We know that the road might lead us to something great, a new drug/therapy/antibiotic, but we publish our initial finding so that the science community can help us get there. What good are our breakthroughs if we do not share them, who will that help. Sometimes they are not fully formed, rough around the edges, and our conclusion may be wrong, but we share so that we may use our collective knowledge for the greater good. We must constantly refine our destination, seeking a better one each time, because that is the only way to arrive at the best place together.
I’ll talk about conference 2 – American Society for Microbiology General Meeting (my stellar award winning undergrad presented data here) and conference 3 – Mid-Atlantic PREP & IMSD Symposium (I was an invited speaker…yay!!!) in due time. Stay tuned!!!