Yet again I’ve managed to slip through the cracks, or maybe the standards were just that low. Whatever the reason, I’ve been selected to share my science in the form of a podium presentation. Yep I was awarded a spot to present my work at an upcoming event I’m required to attend (luckily it’s a masked event, because we’re all medical professionals) so I get to give a supposedly “fun” elevator pitch of my work. Just a few weeks away, I have to figure out what I want to say and how I want to share it. The issue isn’t so much that I’m speaking in front of a group (that isn’t on my computer), the challenge is the state of the project.
Every year we have certain events in our area run by different groups that our lab(s) try to attend. In this case there’s on overlap between my work lab and my school lab. Both labs will be in attendance for the meeting and I believe my school lab also has some presentations or at least posters for the event. From the hospital lab side of things we had two people submit posters with a chance for a slot to present our work, myself and postdoc from the lab (I almost said another postdoc, but I’m not a postdoc… yet). We both were selected for podium talks, because the stuff we’re doing is super cool, or at least I think so.
Our projects couldn’t be more different, he’s looking at spinal cord injury and I’m working on a (NOPE CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT) project, but the catch is he’s much further along than I am. The project I submitted, and the one I’m currently working on, was originally designed to be a “quick and dirty” experiment. Meaning we got into the lab, did a few tests, then got out of the lab. I believe I wrote about this project on several occasions over the summer (like this one!) where we had some technical difficulties and I had to change the project around somewhat to make it work with our equipment.
We have some data, but it doesn’t show the effect we were looking for, in fact it shows something completely different. So we’ve retooled the experiment, we were planning on going full invasive for the study and we’ve been coordinating with our super friendly neurosurgeon to make it happen.
Speaking of which, the interesting experiment that was supposed to happen a few days ago (this one), well it didn’t happen. It turns out the participant did not get our messages after all and was going to consent to do the study. Everything was looking good, but when I went to obtain consent, they were not in the right mindset to do it. I guess they were anxious and someone gave them anti anxiety meds because the person was asleep, would not stay awake, and I didn’t feel comfortable consenting someone like that. My hospital-PI and lab coordinators both agreed, so instead of doing our stuff, we got to watch. Still a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it, but not as cool as doing the actual experiment.
Anyway, the presentation will happen in just a few weeks. I’m meeting sometime next week to go over the talk with my hospital-PI and to discuss any changes he thinks needs to happen before the “big day” I get two powerpoint slides for the presentation, so most of the talk will just be me walking people through the slides and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Thankfully this isn’t a super formal scientific conference where we need hard data to back up what we’re doing. Instead this is more of a chance to show off the stuff we’re currently working on in an environment that is safe. Meaning while I can’t talk about the specifics here, I can while I’m at the conference.
It may sound a little self serving to talk about stuff you’re working on, sort of like bragging. But there is a good reason for it, well a couple actually. The big one is that others may have insights you didn’t think about or things you didn’t consider and it never hurts to have multiple eyes on a project in situations like that. The second is to help inspire collaboration and just to get people excited about the research. There will be a lot of people who are just starting out in attendance so it will give them a chance to see what the state of the art is.
Of course this will look different than some of the conferences in the past, namely thanks to COVID, we need to social distance, posters are closed to judges only or certain groups at a time, things like that. Basically all the safety stuff we need to worry about while we’re trying to live in a pandemic. Since this is a hospital related event, everyone’s already vaccinated so the extra precautions are more to make sure we don’t spread anything since a lot of us work with vulnerable populations (in my case spinal cord injury populations).
So yeah, somewhat surprised they selected my abstract for a talk since it’s still very early work, but it’s a good topic and the project itself will answer some important questions. I’ve got hope that we will be collecting some data in the next few weeks that will help (with any luck) wrap up this “quick” experiment. But in the meantime I will at least get the chance to share what we have so far and the result is still somewhat promising. Oh and there will be a chance to win some (small) cash prizes, so hey who knows, maybe I’ll win something else too!