#Biophys16—A different kind of conference experience

PhD candidate Teresa Zulueta-Coarasa was a among a group of IBBME students who made their way to Los Angeles, California this past February for the 60th Biophysics Annual Meeting.

From February 27 to March 2, 11 students from the labs of Professors Rodrigo Fernandez-GonzalezJonathan RocheleauKevin Truong and Christopher Yip presented and discussed their latest research with top experts in their fields. They were among 5,000 attendees from around the world.

While attending conferences for graduate students shouldn’t be a novel idea, Zulueta-Coarasa felt this particular meeting was unique and shared her thoughts on why IBBME students might want to consider attending a similar event for themselves.

Graduate students attend conferences regularly; why did this particular meeting stand out to you?

This conference hosted a number of physicists with expertise in a variety of areas such as image analysis methods, microscopy techniques and cell mechanics. I was exposed to questions and insights from experts I don’t usually encounter in my field. They provided me with a lot of great feedback that helped me focus on details of my research I had not considered before.

Speaking of research, can you tell us what you’re working on?

As part of Professor Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez’s Quantitative Morphogenesis Lab, we measure how molecular and mechanical signals affect development and repair in fruit fly embryos. One particular area of focus includes inducing wounds to investigate its repair process as a viable model for molecular mechanisms of cell migration in cancer.

You were also invited to give a talk on your research; what was that like?

A number of IBBME students were invited to be platform presenters at this conference. A fellow student from my lab, Michael Wang, and I were invited to give talks in different conference subgroups (I gave a presentation in the Bioengineering Conference Subgroup organized by Professors Jonathan Rocheleau and Christopher Yip). During abstract revision, authors were not identified as students or faculty and as a result, lots of trainees had the opportunity to give talks. It was a great experience for me to be put on the spot and asked challenging questions from top experts in the field.

You received financial support to attend this conference; how did you get that?

The Canadian Biophysical Society provided a travel grant that eligible students could apply for. The grant application was a competitive process, but I was fortunate to be successful. The subsidy was enough to cover part of my travel costs and am very grateful for the opportunity.