Doctoral students have a lot of time on their hands. It may appear otherwise, but the unstructured nature of a graduate student’s life lends itself to exploring seemingly endless plains of fascinating information. I am a Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. student working on developing molecular tools like CRISPR (Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats used for editing DNA) to make microorganisms that can convert sugar into plastics. And somehow, on a snowy day in early January, I found myself going down a rabbit hole of attention-grabbing references that led from CRISPR to molybdenum.
Attending Evolution, the premier international conference for evolutionary biology, had a big influence on my recently spawned, yet still vague, choice to pursue a career in evolutionary biology. Held in Austin, Texas this year and the largest conference in its field, Evolution is a joint event for three major societies: the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists.
I have been lucky enough to attend the SciPy conference two years in a row. The conference is focused on scientific computing in Python, and is attended by hundreds of researchers from fields ranging from computer science and software engineering to biology and physics. The format of the conference is chock-full with a slew of different activities and forums. There are tutorials, keynote speeches, seminars, lightning talks, “birds of a feather” (BoF) sessions (where people sharing a common interest participate in a moderated forum focused on a particular challenge), code sprints, poster presentations, and job fairs. This year, schedule conflicts limited my participation to only the “main event” days, so I missed the tutorials (held on days preceding the main event) and sprints (following the main event). But there was still plenty to keep me occupied!
This past June, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and present at the International Conference on Network Science (“NetSci”) in Zaragoza, Spain. NetSci is a profoundly interdisciplinary conference and one that every year attracts top researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, from Physics to Biology, Computer Science to Economics, all united by a common interest in Network Science.
A few weeks ago, and thanks to support from IQ Biology travel funds, I had an opportunity to visit the University of California, San Diego. Plans changed (un)fortunately for the trip, and it got cut short (more on this below), but it was an exciting visit nonetheless.
The National Science Foundation recently announced the recipients of their coveted 2014 Graduate Research Fellowship awards. These prestigious awards have been given since 1952 to graduate students who show a demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Two students from the BioFrontiers Institute’s Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology PhD Program, Ryan Langendorf and Eric Kightley, received fellowships.
CU Boulder's winning iGEM team to go to the world stage of the premiere synthetic biology competition.
IQ Biology, interdisciplinary