Thursday, 30 April 2015

Evolve Biomed Conference Day 2

My laptop's being narcoleptic, so here I am blogging on the iPad again and typing with one finger like a Muggle. So, today was the second and last day of the national (sorta international) Biomed conference AJ invited me to, and I'm glad to report I survived the many new experiences of the two days. 

So, chronological order. 

I wasn't so sick today after sleeping early (11.30) last night, so I was quite productive on the train up and got two articles written for Fiverr. I also wasn't so nervous and didn't have to lug around the big poster, which were definitely advantages. 

Oh, and I forgot to mention something funny that happened yesterday. When I realised there were no trains from my station and was asking AJ for advice, he and two other organisers, Laura and I think it was Azeez, all started offering me money. Azeez was like 'Does someone need money? Because I have loads of money!' It was a funny thing to hear. 

Anyway. I used the route that guy showed me yesterday to leave the station and get to the RDS, the scenic route (which happens to have no ticket checkers). 

It's really gorgeous, apparently taken care of by the bank. I got to the RDS no problem and found the building without getting lost, though that was mostly luck. I'm still proud though. 

When I got on, I was delighted to discover that there were free books. That's how you buy my loyalty. 

I charged my iPad at the wall for a bit then, and ate more cookies and talked to people. Whilst wandering, I found this:

Name your cancer research MULTIFUN, because what could possibly go wrong? 

I Tweeted way too much today, probably annoying everyone, but at least it helps keep track of what happened. While I was chilling in the main room, I missed several cool talks, including one on cancer immunotherapy and one from Laura Anderson of Cheeky Scientists, which everyone raved about on Twitter. I Tweeted that I was sad about missing it and she met up with me at break and we chatted, so that was cool.

I tried to do some Maths homework at the break (and counterproductively Tweeted about it, to which Essential French replied), but soon got distracted. 

I tried on an Oculus Rift, which was cool. Also, my hair worked out for once. And it responded to the way I moved my head. Nice. 

There were then Breakout sessions, where we split up into groups. I went first to the Biotech session (#throwback to CTYI 2014) and then to Medical Devices. They were alright. 

It's hard to remember exactly when things were, but I did like the talk on vaccine development and the woman who said "20 years experience" is a shortcut for saying you're old. She was interesting, had a lovely voice and made me realise where British "r"s go (idear). 

Oh, another thing I forgot to mention - I enjoyed another one of the talks yesterday evening, by this guy. I forget what he actually does, but he was funny and talked about windsurfing to work. He got knighted in France, which he said meant he could speed all he wanted because he outranks the gendarme. He also said his friends say he knows a lot about oestrogen, but nothing about women.

Also, a speaker from yesterday used three buzzwords in sequence in a sentence, which I found funny. "We need to ... gear up, accelerate, boost ..." Ah, buzzwords. I've heard far too many of them. 

Another speaker talked about tissue engineering. I'd heard most of this talk before during the part of my work experience that was at RCSI tissue engineering labs, but it was grand. People talked a lot about the graphene flagship, which is something to do with the EU and 1 billion euro. Also, Horizon 2020 and filling out grants for it. Someone also mentioned a bidding war for the 2018 World Congress of Biomechanics and said it'll be held in the Conference Centre in Dublin, and that Ireland is 6th for nanotech and 8th for materials science (either in the EU or in the world, I'm not sure which). 

At some point in all that there was lunch, where I couldn't find a BLT. I talked to people from MiCRA a bit more about my project and theirs. I like the dude with the glasses, but their nanotech guy was unfriendly. One of the organisers specially came to get me for the session where Prof. Prina-Mello was giving a talk on the nanomedicine group (of which most of the organisers are a part, so duh). I came back to listen to the AMBER speech as well, and I think that was actually the one that had tissue engineering.

More talks, hunger, cookies, Tweeting. I livetweeted the whole day and @EvolveBiomed2015 Retweeted everything I posted, so that was interesting. There were talks, and I remember the guy from Enterprise Ireland because I left after that. 

Then there was another break, where (maybe this was lunch?) I talked to a group of PhD students and then to this professor who gave the first talk I saw (Prof. Cahill, I liked her). She brought her 10-year-old daughter along, so I went over to their table after finally finding someone younger than me. I was still the youngest person there in their own right though. Later on, she said she'd read my poster and it was brilliant, so that was nice to hear from someone I respect. Someone else said my work was very impressive ... especially for someone still in school, and I was quite offended because of the condescension, although I don't think he meant it that way.

I was so nervous about talking about my project before the conference, but now I realise I know it far better than most other people there did because it's my own area, so that was relaxing. 

I finally did the #techwerk selfie: 

After that, the awards for video and Evolve challenge were presented (I didn't enter because it required preregistration). The first two groups presented the exact same project, which was embarrassing. Cool though.

Then there was a panel of fancy people. The CIO of the HSE, the Chair of Biochemistry at Trinity, the Director of SFI and the Chief Medical Officer at Icon. I liked that panel, because they all knew what they were talking about and it was fairly lively. Bit of a sausagefest though. Some guy in the audience asked a "question" that literally wasn't a question, he just complained for like seven minutes about low postdoc wages. 

Also, a guy there said at one point something like "So, I know you're all PhD students or have been through a PhD" and I was just thinking Dude. No. 

After that, I packed up my poster and went back to hear AJ's closing address, shook hands with some of the organisers and left. 

So empty after conference. 

I sprinted for the bus to the city centre (some man said he was impressed by that, which is fair enough since I was carrying the poster). A woman there was really nice, we struck up a conversation and she helped hold the poster so the wrath of Dublin Bus didn't descend on me. I started reading that free book.

I had to wait 45 minutes for my train, so I read more and was cold. Talked to this man sitting beside me in Pearse about my project though, which was cool. He works in pharma and his company has a stand at the YS every year (Irish Medicines Regulatory Board or something), so that was cool. I finally got home around 10.30 p.m. I have school tomorrow and none of my homework done, but I'll deal with that when it comes.

I amassed a lot of business cards and gave out contact details and stuff. It was grand. I've probably forgotten to put a lot of stuff down but we'll live with it

Again, I'll have a reflection post soon enough once all this has settled in. For now, I'm signing off. 

See you tomorrow. 

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