September 03, 2008

Liveblogging from Genoa and the Conference of European Comparative Endocrinologists

First day in Genua and the city is an onslaught on the senses. It's dirty, messy, smelly, colorful, hot, loud and full of people, but obviously not without its charm. I hope I get the time to see more of the city other than the neighborhood we're staying in, which I understand is the "picturesque" old city, and the convention center which is at the old harbor, Porto Antico, which funnily enough doesn't seem that "antico" at all. It's a nice, modern, cleaned-up space with nice shops, nice caf├ęs and a wide promenade, seemingly designed to provide slightly overwhelmed tourists from more temperate countries and Genoese alike with a little refuge from the boisterous city.

We don't have internet connection where we're staying, (which sucks!) but we're told the convention center offers a wireless connection so it's all good. I'm writing this in bed, so I guess I'll post it tomorrow at first opportunity


No such luck. There's a pretty sucky WiFi here at the convention center but you have to pay for it and they "do not guarantee quality of service". What a ripoff. Lack of free internet connection aside (really, a bunch of scientists gather and there's no internet!?) everything has been pretty nice. Today I'm only interested in the session on the molecular evolution of hormones and their receptors, which is right up my alley and over now, so I have an hour or so before the first poster session starts. I'm supposed to be in the second poster session on Friday but I've put my poster up and if I see someone by it I'll walk up and chat. I'll be writing some more about the actual content of the talks when I have a bit more time.

>>Update September 4

This afternoon we had an excursion to the Portofino natural park and the town of Portofino, and of course I forget my camera in the congress center. Bleh. Portofino was beautiful, although I bit too tourist-y and mannered to accommodate the more high-end clientele that park their yachts in the marina. But beautiful nonetheless, as was the nature and the small farms and villas in the surrounding countryside.

Today I jumped back and forth between the sessions on biological rhythms and feeding regulation. Both included some pretty nice talks that spanned from the very general aspects of each subject to the more specific details. I'll bring a lot of what I learned during the biological rhythms session into the lectures I'm gonna give on the subject this December. I've also met some nice people that we're trying to strike up some collaborations with. Apparently they think some of my results are really exciting and we've discussed how they can contribute in taking my analyses further. I don't mean to sound surprised about it, I think the results I'm generating are pretty exciting too, but it is a bit new to me to connect what I'm doing, sitting there on my own in front of the computer, to something that people might actually find thrilling and interesting. The sort of "bridging" between bioinformatics and genomics and function and physiology that we're trying to get ahead on is really what interests me and where I want to take my work, so it's a perfect opportunity.

>>Update September 5

Had my poster session today and it went really well. A number of people came over to talk and I had my shit together and answered their questions about my research without any problems. All in all it was a pretty enjoyable experience. The best thing about these sort of conferences is that you get the chance to present ongoing research and get a lot of feedback on it and also kind of recharge your batteries and get a bit more enthusiasm about it. When you've stared yourself blind on your own data it can be valuable to sort of look at it from the outside and explain it to someone else to really catch what's good about it and what needs more work.

We have the conference dinner in a couple of hours at the Palazzo Ducale. Should be fun.

>>Update September 9

The conference ended Saturday at noon so we got a whole afternoon to go sightseeing in Genoa before traveling home yesterday. Expect photos appearing in my Flickr page in the coming days.

The last day of the conference was actually the best one for me. One really interesting session on the regulation of growth hormone secretion and another one on general pituitary regulation. Since I work with the evolution of the growth hormone-family system it was really informative and interesting to learn a bit more about what's new in the actual biology of the system.

I've taken a lot of notes during all the sessions I've been too and I'm following up on most of it, finding and reading articles, so I'm hoping to muster up enough energy and attention to write an entry about everything. We'll have a presentation of the conference next week to everyone else in the group so I'll have to produce something in any case. But right now it's back to work, business as usual.

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