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One of the longest serving members of the EMBL Course and Conference team, I'm an event marketer who is always on the lookout for innovative new marketing methods...and I have a tendency to break into song.
In the 21st century, it seems like there is always something to do or some place to be, and the constant enhanced stress levels can sometimes reach boiling point. Often it’s the little things that can help make us feel more balanced, and the EMBL Course and Conference Team have been taking steps to make sure our participants leave our events feeling as relaxed as possible.
Yoga / meditation / prayer room
A couple of years ago we set up a spacious room to provide an oasis of peace and quiet during the sometimes loud and hectic conference environment. The room is equipped with comfortable floor mats as well as yoga and prayer mats. The lights are dimmed to ensure a calm, relaxing atmosphere.
Spending hours on end listening to fascinating scientific lectures is great, but it requires a lot of concentration! Our coffee and lunch breaks have therefore been adapted to include more healthy snacks and brain food such as fresh blueberries, dark chocolate, nuts, pumpkin and chia seeds, as well as a range of fresh fruit, vegetables and salads.
Environmentally friendly catering
Although we have always been very conscious of being environmentally friendly when it comes to catering for our guests, we are striving to further reduce the amount of single use food and beverage packaging at our events. Our catering team has also significantly increased the number of local produce suppliers who provide us with the delicious food loved by our participants.
In order to create a more relaxed atmosphere, a cosy corner was set up in the Advanced Training Centre where participants can sit back, relax and recharge their batteries.
Increased networking opportunities
Because scientific meetings are not just about sitting through lectures, we have a range of networking opportunities to allow our participants to meet fellow scientists, such as speed networking sessions, meet the editor sessions, science slams, gala dinners, conference parties, organised woodland walks and photo booths.
We know that balancing work with family life can be difficult, and as a result EMBL and EMBO are both working to make attending scientific events easier, with EMBL providing onsite childcare at our conferences and symposia in EMBL Heidelberg, and EMBO offering childcare grants to cover the costs of having a child looked after while one or both parents attend an EMBO funded course or conference. More info can be found here.
Help us to continue improving our services to participants – is there something that you’d like to see at our events?! Let us know in the comments below!
Balancing work with family life can be difficult, and often the opportunities for parents to advance their careers are limited as a result. EMBL and EMBO are both working to make attending scientific events easier, with EMBL providing onsite childcare at their conferences and symposia in EMBL Heidelberg, and EMBO offering childcare grants to cover the costs of having a child looked after while one or both parents attend an EMBO funded course or conference.
To avoid any confusion between the two options, here is an overview of what you might be eligible for to help you get the most out of your career and your family.
At a glance
EMBL onsite childcare
EMBO childcare grant
EMBL Conferences, EMBO Workshops or EMBO| EMBL Symposia taking place at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Heidelberg, Germany.
EMBO Courses, Workshops or EMBO| EMBL Symposia. The EMBL Course and Conference Office deals only with those events taking place at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Heidelberg, Germany. Grants for other EMBO events should be applied for directly to the individual event organisers.
Who and where?
Children are looked after on campus by our highly qualified kindergarten teachers in the EMBL Kinderhaus, Heidelberg, Germany.
Childcare grants are available to offset child care costs incurred by participants or speakers of EMBO events. Eligible costs include fees for a baby-sitter or child-care facility, travel costs for a care giver, or travel costs for bringing the child to the city/town where the meeting is being held, etc.
The two main languages of the teachers are German and English.
8:30am – 5:50pm for the duration of the conference
Grant applicable for costs incurred in relation to child care costs during the meeting.
A subsidised fee of €100 per child is payable by the conference participant
A total of €1000 is available per meeting, with a general cap of €500 per person. This can be allocated based on need at the discretion of the organisers.
All necessary equipment such as meals, beds, toys and diapers are provided.
Eligible costs include fees for a baby-sitter or child-care facility, travel costs for a care giver, or travel costs for bringing the child to the city/town where the meeting is being held, etc.
Who is eligible?
One or both parents must be registered participants, organisers or speakers at the corresponding conference. The child must be between 3 months and 3 years of age.
Childcare grants are available to anyone attending the event (speakers, organisers, trainers, participants etc.)
How to apply
Registration for childcare must be made online 6 weeks before the start of the event by using the “register for childcare link” on the individual conference website.
Applicants must indicate during the abstract or motivation letter submission process how much funding they would like to apply for, and what it will be used for. They should also indicate at what stage of their career they are.
As childcare spaces are limited, registration will be on a first-come first-served basis. Your place can only be confirmed after payment of the registration fee. The selection is handled by the EMBL Course and Conference Office.
The amount of money awarded for the childcare grant is dependent upon the number of applicants per event. The selection is handled by the organisers of the respective meetings.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel.: +49 (0)6221 387 8797.
Please contact the organisers of the individual event for more information.
Do you want to know how networking and informational interviews can enhance your scientific career? Are you unsure of whether to stay in academia or not? Find out how to use your contacts and professional networking sites to find and obtain the right job for you.
Use your personal contacts
Use existing contacts to get first hand, tailored information from people who’ve made the transition into different types of careers. You might also be a member of different networks such as an alumni association or a scientific society where you can find people to talk to about their careers, or perhaps you are attending a conference where you can speak to people directly about their experiences.
Don’t be afraid of professional networking sites
Make the most of what’s on offer, be it LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Xing or other local sites. Search for people who have similar skills or backgrounds as you, contact them and ask if they’d be willing to talk to you about their career. Join groups on these sites to talk to people in similar fields as you are in or want to get into.
Set up some “informational interviews”
An informational interview is an informal discussion about careers where you can get advice and information – it is not something that will lead to a job but should rather be a source of inspiration and advice. Get in touch with the people who might be able to offer you some sound advice, and ask if they can spare 20 minutes for you to pick their brains.
Prepare for your informal interview
One way to structure these informational interviews is to use REVEAL*:
Recap – Who are you and why would you like to talk to this person
Explore – Prepare questions to help you explore the career area, role and sector
Vision – Follow up with more detailed questions about the trends for the field, and where your career could head in the longer term
Entry Routes – How did the person you’re talking to get into the role? Are there different routes to getting in?
Action Points – What do you need to do to get these kinds of roles? Can also ask for feedback on your CV
Links – Can the person recommend any other resources to you?
Realistically assess your skills, values and interests
Scientists often struggle with working out what kinds of jobs they are best suited to. Look in depth at your skills, values and interests. Use this information to filter your career research. You can, for example, look for people with a similar skill set on LinkedIn and see what kinds of roles they have and gain some inspiration for what you might be interested in.
Research the available career possibilities
There are a large variety of options out there for scientists who don’t want to stay on the academic career path. In addition to research in pharma, biotechs and startups there are also a variety of roles where you can use your scientific knowledge, understanding of the research process or data analysis skills. These roles often support scientific research, communicate research findings more broadly, or help translate research into real life applications.
The BioMalPar conference is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. How did it all start and how has it developed over the years?
AW: I was part of the organisation of the original meeting in 2004 and have attended every iteration since. It was originally a dual-purpose meeting designed to bring together the participants in the EC funded Network of Excellence of the same name, “BioMalPar”, the students in the associated PhD school that it funded, and to serve as an international meeting on malaria.
LB: I started attending BioMalPar in 2006 and was inspired by the format of the conference, allowing such great interaction and exposure to young scientists. It always allows the most cutting edge (mostly unpublished) research to be presented, and the addition of workshops to the conference programme allows for additional opportunities for learning, and these workshops are new and trending every year.
What inspired you to organise this conference?
LB: This meeting to me is THE malaria conference that I annually attend. As a researcher from a malaria endemic country, I was inspired to organise the conference to strengthen exposure of the great research performed in such countries at the conference, and provide context for the research findings to show how the excellent research presented have direct impact to people’s lives living with malaria.
RB: This meeting is a prime example of a community effort. Hence organising it is an honour and a great way to serve our community. I very much enjoyed the collegial and welcoming atmosphere created by former organisers and I hope that we will manage to recreate some of it this year as well.
KD: In recent years, the conference has become more widely attended by non-European scientists and is now an event attended by investigators from throughout the world. When I was invited to participate in the organisation of this year’s meeting, I considered it an exceptional opportunity to interact with international colleagues and build stronger ties for exchanging ideas and potential collaborations.
The format of the conference is a bit distinct from that of other meetings in that the majority of talks are reserved for selected short talks. What is the benefit for the programme to have mostly selected talks?
KD: Reserving the majority of each session for short talks ensures that the latest, unpublished data will be presented at the meeting. Highlighting young investigators presenting new data for the first time also lends an air of excitement to the sessions that adds to the overall “buzz” of the conference.
LB: This is in my opinion one of the main strengths of the conference. The audience will have the ability to hear new data ‘straight from the horses mouth’ as the short talks are mostly presented by early career scientists and mostly covers unpublished work.
AW: The emphasis is on packing in as much new science by the early career researchers as possible. This format makes it possible and allows one to work to themes in terms of the meeting organisation
RB: We will have excellent keynote lectures this year to set the stage and provide broad overviews on specific subjects. Yet, selected talks offer opportunity to young research fellows to share their exciting, unpublished findings.
The short talk selection for this year’s edition has now been finalised. Could you share what the focus and highlights of the conference will be?
RB: The content of the short talks is traditionally kept secret till the start of the meeting and I do not want to break this tradition ;-). But we as organisers had a hard time to make a selection out of the numerous excellent abstracts submitted, so I am certain that the scientific standard of the meeting will be very high.
LB: As organisers, we were very happy to have a large basis of excellent abstracts to select from, which will make the final choices exciting to come and listen to!
In your opinion, what challenges is malaria research facing and how close are we to an effective malaria vaccine?
KD: Everyone in the field is thrilled that a malaria vaccine is now being deployed for the first time. However, we also recognise that this vaccine has significant shortcomings in terms of its efficacy and longevity of protection. Research into the nature of the immune response of people infected by malaria parasites, as well as identifying new drugs and drug targets and methods of vector control will all contribute to our ability to control the disease.
LB: With the trial roll out of the RTS,S malaria vaccine in Malawi, we are indeed closer to evaluating the large scale effect of this intervention. However, malaria is a very complicated disease and we should continue with our multifaceted integrative control strategies, which will possibly be the only way we can really have an impact towards elimination. Our research challenges remain to inform policy makers as to the importance of continued funding of the work and for the research community to continue translating these to tangible outcomes, as we have done successfully for the past decade.
RB: Despite substantial progress in the last decades elimination of malaria is still out of our reach. Integration of insight gained in various fields will be essential for generating breakthroughs in drug/vaccine development and vector control alike. The BioMalPar meeting certainly provides an excellent platform for the exchange of innovative ideas and hence will help to bring the well-desired goal of malaria elimination closer to reality.
Are you attending a conference and presenting a poster, but not sure where to start? Here are 10 tips to help you transform a good poster into a great one!
Make it gripping! The scientific poster needs to captivate your audience from the beginning. Make sure you focus on what your key message is and put that clearly in your title.
Keep the title short The title is what will make people either read your abstract and visit your poster or not. Keep the title short and snappy to make sure it draws interest.
Leave out unnecessary words Make sure you only use words that are really necessary. Try to minimise the text, however make sure you clearly and succinctly describe the main conclusions from your project and the take-home messages.
Make good use of graphics Focus on the graphics – these are what will catch the eye and explain the data in a way that’s easy to comprehend. Make sure you use graphics that are easy to understand, and stick to a consistent, clean layout.
Don’t try to cram everything on the poster The poster is not the place to publish your entire research results. It serves as a networking tool that should attract attention, and help you start up conversations with other scientists. Include only the important information on the poster – YOU are there to provide any other information!
Outline your methods Use one graphic, for example, which outlines the design of the study and the methodology that you’ve utilised. Follow this with graphics that convey the scientific results.
Have clear take-home messages The take-home messages need to be clearly visualised and clearly described for them to be understood by your listeners.
Know what’s important Work out what is the most important information on your poster, and make sure it is visible / readable from a distance in order to draw people who are walking past.
Tailor your poster presentation to your audience When you’re presenting your poster to a listener, make sure that you assess their expertise level so that you can tailor your delivery to the person that’s standing in front of you. You don’t want to give the same level of details to somebody who already knows a bit about the subject as somebody who is completely unaware of the research area you’re in.
Don’t forget credits! Be sure to include all acknowledgements and collaborators, as well as your name and affiliation on the poster.
Original video with Prof. Lars Steinmetz, EMBL Senior Scientist and Director of the Life Science Alliance