Anthelmintics III Conference at Tampa, Florida by Grace Mariene

The thought of being at the airport at 3.00 am to catch a flight to Tampa, at -27 degrees Celsius, did not sound like an interesting idea. But the thought of staying at the Indian Rock Beach hotel for the Anthelmintics III, 2018 conference warmed my heart. The long journey started on the 29th January, with a connecting flight inHouston, Texas. Arriving at the hotel that evening was a relief and all I could think of was food, shower and sleep. The conference schedule was tight and so a refreshed mind was needful.

Tuesday, January 30th started early with some light breakfast and a couple of interactions.  At last I could enjoy some sunlight after weeks of being frozen in Calgary, phew! The hotel was great and the scenery overlooking my room was beautiful and calming.

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The first session kicked off with three great talks about the signalling pathways of various parasitic nematodes and their hosts as part of the anthelmintic strategy.  After a coffee break, there were five other great talks on the molecular targets for a new generation of anthelmintics. A buffet lunch was offered at the cafeteria and I had the opportunity to taste some seafood. Later in the afternoon, we had poster session 1 which started with pitch slide presentations from all the poster presenters. The poster presenters were given 1 minute to sell their poster to the meeting, with the aim of persuading as many people as possible to discuss their work during the poster session.  This session was very interesting, and I had the opportunity to get an overview of almost all the research that surrounded this topic of anthelmintic resistance.

Wednesday, January 31st started early as well with some light breakfast and interactions. The talks kicked off at exactly 8.30 am with most of the talks revolving around genomics and bioinformatics. This was particularly interesting to me as my area of research involves the same. After the coffee break, there were five talks on the immune-modulating pathways of parasitic nematodes. I had the opportunity to co-chair the afternoon session preceding the poster and pitch sessions 2, as well as give my pitch slide talk and poster presentation. I must say I was very excited and “shocked” to meet Dr. Rosalind Laing, whose work I read a lot about, and refer to and cite often in my research. I always thought, going by her name, that she was an old male scientist, weird? yes, I know! On the contrary, she was a young female scientist with a sharp mind. This greatly motivated me in my young science career. She came over to my poster, together with others and we had a great talk around my area of research and it felt great to mention her work as I gave my presentation. I couldn’t help stealing glances at her occasionally just to clear my misconception, ha! In it all, I learnt a lot during this session as great ideas were floated to me on the flow and projection of my research. After this session, we went out to a nearby restaurant for some good sea food. It was an exhausting but fulfilling day.

Thursday, February 1st started early as usual with a light breakfast and interesting talks lined up for the day. The talks revolved around transcriptomics, genome and genetic approaches linked to anthelmintic resistance, all of which were particularly useful in my area of research. After the coffee break, there were a couple of other great talks on micro RNAs and their role in anthelmintics resistance, among others. Later in the afternoon, there was a great workshop for early career researchers, which covered various career options, funding etc. Experienced researchers/scientists shared their career journey and tips of survival as well as prospective career paths for the young scientists. I learnt so much from this workshop and was able to think more clearly on my career path. A sumptuous closing dinner followed later in the evening with the winners for the poster session being announced. Further interactions went on until late into the night. A few of us went to play mini-golf, a game I was playing for the first time and I had lots of fun. Luckily, I did not come out last!

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We were all exhausted at the end of the day but happy.

Friday, February 2nd, started earlier than usual. It was time to pack our bags in readiness to travel back to Calgary that afternoon. We had a heavy breakfast this day, followed by six talks that revolved around the pharmacology and feeding behaviours of parasitic nematodes. We were clearly exhausted at the end of this session and our minds switched modes thinking of the journey back and the cold weather waiting to “welcome” us back home. After days of dressing lightly and walking around in sandals, it was time to confirm our winter boots and jackets were still intact. The conference ended at around noon and the shuttle to take us to the airport was ready for us at 1.00 pm. It was exciting to go back home and particularly for me because I had a wedding to attend the following day!

The Anthelmintic III conference was an awesome experience for me, very enlightening and fun too!! Thank you HPI and my supervisor Dr. James Wasmuth for your support!

 

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