Last week I attended a five-day Gorden Research Conference (GRC) in Ventura, California. GRCs (https://www.grc.org/) are small and prestigious scientific conferences that cover a broad spectrum of STEM disciplines. Three weeks before the conference, I received an invitation from the conference chair to give a 10-minute mini-talk. As the majority of the talks were given by faculties, I was very honored to be one of the 5 graduate students/pos-docs selected for mini-talks. I put a lot of time and efforts on my presentation slides and practiced once in front of my research advisor, once at our lab meeting, and probably 10 times in my hotel room in Ventura. Ten minutes is a very short time for a science presentation, especially to an audience that may not be familiar with your work. I wanted it to be an informative and well-organized one as well as demonstrate the high impact of my findings to the cell biology field. My talk went pretty well and I received a lot of compliments and most importantly some feedback, comments and even critics. One of the professor from Germany even offered me a post-doc position in her lab. Being able to communicate with my peers working in the same field and exchange ideas really helped me better design experiments to complete my project. I also got to know many outstanding professors and students personally from all over the world. It was a very positive experience for me and I would definitely encourage you to attend conferences and meetings to advance your knowledge and open up your horizon.
Here is a picture of a Pacific Gray Whale that we spotted on a whale watching tour between the Channel Islands and Ventura harbor, which was the second best thing that happened there.