By: Alison K.
What happens when you bring thousands of scientists into New Orleans? Well, a lot. Giveaway laptop bags and name tags are telltale signs of a conference attendee. Amidst French influence architecture and po boy sandwiches, scientists meet and greet, catch up with colleagues from all over North America and beyond, as well as present some of their most recent findings of their research.
Roughly 2,000 graduate students attended EB this year—an impressive statistic. As a leader of the Student Interest Group (SIG) for ASN, I found this year's conference renewing, rewarding and educational. I was privileged enough to attend a student breakfast at the Marriott, meet with the ASN fellows, as well as participate as the student representative for the Vitamins and Minerals RIS (VMRIS). Despite the temptation to explore the incredible city of New Orleans, I believe attending EB and engaging in various activities allowed me to network and learn from scientists that I otherwise may have never had the chance to meet in person.
Starting with the early morning breakfast, I sat at a table with colleagues and President of ASN, Jim Hill. Dr. Hill gave a small speech— reminding students of how important it is to be engaged in ASN and to participate in activities. This message resonated with me because as a graduate student, sometimes I forget how essential it is for me to stay involved. Late nights in the lab, events on our individual campuses and other personal obligations often keep up distracted from our professional societies. Dr. Hill's words let me recall my obligations to ASN as a resource for my success in the field of nutrition.
At the VMRIS poster contest, I was tasked with taking minutes of the business meeting as well as tallying results to determine the winner of the contest. Throughout the academic year, I had to publicize the VMRIS poster contest to graduate programs throughout North America. This small administrative duty is just a taste of what professors engage in throughout their careers—I find as a graduate student, these kinds of positions are very character building and eye opening. It gives you an inside view of the kind of work that goes into creating events at EB, which made me so much more appreciative of the hard work everyone in ASN does in order to make EB such a success.
Meeting the ASN fellows was the most influential experience I have at both EB conferences I have attended. Milton Sunde's words of wisdom and anecdotes are always so enjoyable and entertaining, as well as educational. Just think—50 years ago things were so different in the arena of nutrition research, it just amazes me! Imagine, Atlantic City, 1949—where Dr. Sunde, then a graduate student, was able to interact with industry at the Poultry Sciences meeting—that's right, they wanted to talk to graduate students! What a treat it is to hear these amazing stories from ASN fellows. So much history, friendship, and hard work shared in this one hour, I can't help but be grateful for them to come and share their stories with us. It makes me hope one day to have such intimate connections with other researchers in nutrition.
Well, if you are a graduate student reading this, I hope that I have thoroughly convinced you to attend EB in Anaheim in 2010. Graduate school is not always an easy place to be (it shouldn't be easy!). It is through ASN activities at EB that I am able to continue with passion and love for nutrition science.