Posted on 05/09/2012 at 02:02:07 PM by Student BloggerBy Sylvia Ley, MSc, RD, University of Toronto
EB is one of the most student-friendly conferences. It supports student participation not only through scientific sessions but additionally through trainee-specific oral and poster competitions. This year multiple trainee poster competitions were held within ASN Research Interest Sections encouraging students to interact with other members. Students were also given opportunities to volunteer for conference organizing activities.
This year I co-chaired a mini-symposium session entitled, “Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of dietary bioactive components” for the Dietary Bioactive Components RIS. This opportunity taught me the process of critiquing and selecting abstracts within a tight timeline and then introducing, timing, and providing tech support at the session to maintain sharing scientific knowledge possible.
This was also my second year serving on the Student Interest Group (SIG). Throughout the year, SIG committee members led by Sheau Ching Chai worked hard planning their activities at the annual meeting. The SIG organized a symposium session titled, “A nurturing environment produces future legends: development of career through successful mentor-mentee relationships.” For a fundraiser, Pao Ying Hsiao spearheaded the sale of anti-vapur water bottles with ASN logos. The SIG committee also organized two student social events which were hugely popular.
Sunday morning the SIG hosted the Graduate Student Breakfast, supported by the Dairy Research Institute. A total of 140 abstracts were submitted and 6 finalists were selected to showcase their work: Stefanie Hinkle, Emory University; Rebecca Replogle, Purdue University; Taylor Salinardi, Tufts University; Ruth Grossmann, Emory University; Laura Chiavaroli, University of Toronto; and Xiaolei Shi, University of Minnesota.
For the second year, SIG and the Young Professionals Interest Group (YPIG) paired up for the Speed Mentoring Event. A video clip from the event can be seen on YouTube. Similar to the concept of speed dating, students had approximately 4 minutes to chat with a mentor before rotating to the next mentor. I volunteered to lead the event as I felt that the event could benefit students. This year the Nutrition Translation RIS helped supply mentors; we had 28 mentors from different nutrition-related professions. As an organizer of this event, I learned how to collaborate in initiating a new event within a conference. Once we had an idea, we were able to gather support from ASN staff in coordinating space arrangement, scheduling, communicating, and collaborating with other RIS. This was also a personally rewarding experience with many fellow students expressing their appreciation.
I am scheduled to graduate from my PhD program this summer, and I can say that volunteering for ASN and organizing conference events have been valuable parts of my learning experience as a graduate student. It certainly is an experience I encourage incoming students to undertake.