14 tips for a smooth conference experience

The date of your first EMBL conference in Heidelberg is fast approaching. You are excited, have already bookmarked interesting abstracts in the conference app and are ready to make your travel arrangements. Here are 14 tips that will help you stay out of trouble and focus on the science.

1. Don’t try to book a flight to Heidelberg

Although it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, Heidelberg does not have an airport. The closest airports are Frankfurt International Airport, Stuttgart Airport and Airport Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden. More information on how to reach Heidelberg is available here.

2. Make sure you read the final logistical email (FLE) we send you

The information provided in this email is vital for your travel plans and conference schedule and will be your bible for the days you spend at the conference. It provides important attachments such as the programme, the onsite handout and the poster listing.

3. Try not to miss the shuttle bus

The EMBL campus is located on a hill outside of Heidelberg which makes it a beautiful and inspiring place to visit, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Heidelberg. However, it also makes it more difficult to reach by public transport. Although efforts have been made to improve the public transport connection to the campus, there is still the need of conference shuttle busses that operate on a strict schedule (included in the FLE). So if you miss the shuttle bus, your only way up the hill may be by taxi. Please note that there are no UBER services in Heidelberg.

Our team has prepared an onsite handout with pictures of all bus stops so that you don’t miss the bus because you don’t know where the correct stop is. This information is provided in the FLE.

4. Get the app instead of the abstract book

When you register online, you will be asked if you would like to receive a printed copy of the abstract book. If you click yes, you will get your copy onsite, but make sure that you don’t lose it as this is the only copy you will get. Many participants diligently take notes in the abstract book during the sessions, only to go home one day realising they have lost their copy.

One way to avoid that is by using the app instead. It includes everything contained in the printed abstract book and more, and it also allows you to review the abstracts ahead of the conference and offers the option to export your notes directly to your email.

5. Share your dietary requirements

The EMBL canteen makes a special effort to cater to everyone’s needs by providing fresh food every day and appropriate substitutes for participants on vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free or gluten-free diets. In our registration system you have the option to indicate your preferences, but should you have special requirements based on food allergies or intolerances, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, so we can ensure you are well fed.

6. Send your flash talk slides well in advance

If you are presenting a flash talk, make sure to send us your slides well in advance to make sure they are looped on the screen in time. You will have only 2 minutes to present your poster in the flash talk, so you don’t want to waste any second with technical difficulties.

For some more tips on how to give a flash talk, watch this video.

7. Avoid asking for a certificate of participation during the registration

As much as we’d like to help you out, registration is not the best time to ask for a certificate of participation. These are normally sent out after the end of the event via email.

8. Hold on to your badge

Your badge is your access card to the conference venue and your coupon for the lunch and dinner buffets, so make sure you don’t lose it or leave it in your hotel room.

9. No cash policy on the EMBL Campus

If you arrive on campus outside of the conference times and you would like to get something to eat or drink, it might not be possible. EMBL has a no cash policy on its campus and the only way to purchase something from the cafeteria or canteen is via a special guest credit card. Therefore, it would be a good idea to grab something to eat on your way to the campus, especially for breakfast as we normally only have coffee available in the mornings.

10. Do not ask us for medicine

As much as we would like to help you with your headache or cold symptoms, we are not authorised to hand out any medicine. However, we have a list of pharmacies that are close to the conference venue which we are happy to share with you.

11. When you sign up for a social event, show up!

Most conference social events like dinners, lunches, parties take place in the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC) and are open to all conference participants without prior registration. In the case that there are organised social events taking place outside of the conference venue such as tours or downtown dinners, these are usually restricted to a limited number of participants, and prior registration is necessary.

All the logistics are meticulously coordinated with the service providers and very often there are waiting lists for these events, so if you are unable to attend, please inform us, so that we can give your spot to someone who can.

12. Stay on the paths in the woods

The EMBL Heidelberg Campus is surrounded by a beautiful forest which offers a great opportunity for lunch-time walks or runs. However, before you set on exploring the woods, please familiarise yourself with the paths so that you easily find your way back. In the app you will find 4 different walking routes of various lengths.

13. Take down your poster on the last day

You have put in so much work in your poster that it is a shame to leave it with us. Make sure you take it down on the last day of the event as you may end up needing it for another conference.

14. Stay away from red push buttons on the emergency exit doors

Not all exit doors in the ATC Foyer may be opened. Look out for a silver button with a key on it to open the door without activating the emergency exit alarm.

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Training in numbers

For those of us who like data, end of year statistics are like the holidays all over again. It’s a few days combining the external training data from all six EMBL sites, then playing with excel sheets and pivot tables galore. The point of it all? We want to know how many scientists we reach each year, and our goal is to train as many scientists as possible – after all, sharing is caring, and training is one of EMBL’s core missions.

External training activities at EMBL focus largely on the events in the Course and Conference Programme , which saw 7,148 people come through EMBL’s doors in 2018, around 500 more than in 2017. We had 59 courses and 26 conferences across our sites in Heidelberg, Hinxton, Hamburg and Grenoble. For us here in Heidelberg, there was never a dull moment, from the intimate meetings with 50 participants, to the conferences that filled the Klaus Tschira Auditorium to capacity or the course participants chatting away during the coffee breaks. In addition, 345 delegates received financial assistance to attend one of our events, thanks to the EMBL Corporate Partnership Programme and EMBO, as well as Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds who provided support for various practical courses.

EMBL’s external training activities also comprise online training in bioinformatics and wet lab techniques, where we reached almost 500,000 users – and this doesn’t even count all the YouTube views. On- and off-site training activities carried out by EMBL faculty via lectures, workshops, conference exhibitions, etc are where we reach the most people. In total, EMBL staff reached more than 75,000 people – equal to about ½ the population of Heidelberg! The EMBL Scientific Visitor Programme, which allows scientists to come to EMBL through internships or collaborate on specific research projects had 688 students take part from all around the world.

As you can see, 2018 was a very busy year for all of us involved in external training. Whether it be group leaders, scientific organisers or teams of event organisers, it takes a lot of people to deliver the extensive and high quality training that EMBL has to offer –  so we would like to give a big THANKS to everyone involved!

 

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Meet the Team – The EMBL Event Survival Kit

The external training programme runs close to 30 conferences and over 60 courses per year, as well as running the EMBL visitor programme. Serving so many scientists mean there are a few things we need to help get us through the year!

Head of External Scientic Training & Head of Course and Conference Office
WHISKEY – To calm the nerves

Jürgen DekaGeoffrey Barnett
Jürgen & Geoff

A blend of German intensity and British stoutness, the Head of External Scientic Training (Jürgen Deka) and the Head of the Course and Conference Office (Geoff Barnett) perfectly complement each other with their dignified and slightly nutty characteristics. With a subtle malty aroma, they are a balanced mix of dryness and spice. Best enjoyed diluted and in small doses, this smooth duo ensures that the external training team consistently performs as a top notch, blended team.

External Scientific Courses & Visitor Programme
VITAMINS – To optimise performance


Yvonne, Elisabeth & Claudia

These essential minerals are vital to keeping our external training programme running and healthy. The 100% natural, maximum-strength team work well together to produce an optimised result, with all carrying out their diverse biochemical functions. Fine to consume on a daily basis, however be sure to do so in small amounts to prevent toxic reactions. They are a convenient cure all for all training related problems, with proven premium-quality side-effects.

Courses Team
CHOCOLATE – To keep up the energy levels


Maryann, Christina & Maria

Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions, chocolate understands. It is always there when you need it. The Courses team are the quality chocolate production line when it comes to running great scientific courses. Rich and satisfying, this delightfully sweet team owes its success to the relentless and uncompromising pursuit of excellence, constantly aiming to please. Although at times bitter sweet, it is easy to become addicted to these premium beings – you are guaranteed to keep coming back for more!

Conferences Team
COFFEE – To stay awake after the conference parties


Tim, Nathalie, Lisa, Lea, Inna & George

The unmistakable aroma of this fragrant team is what makes the conference team unique. Carefully selected, they are roasted to perfection in order to keep you going from conference registration to the closing remarks. According to chemistry, coffee is a solution, and that is certainly true in the case of this earthy yet spicy group. Although there may be some fake, instant coffees out there who are intent on taking shortcuts, at EMBL we have the real thing, and guarantee that we have created the perfect brew for a successful conference.

Marketing Team
CHAMPAGNE – Because who needs an excuse to celebrate?


Julie, Nicola, Krasimira, Carolina & Assol

Focused and bold, the marketing crew make up a very strong team with a truly distinct sparkle of genuine creativity and freshness. Dazzling character that slowly develops along with the organisation of an event, embarking on the endeavours of analysing, proofing, advertising, as well as the subtle capturing of sponsors. Quite youthful, bubbling a myriad number of new and innovative ideas.

Administration
CAKE – To bring some sweetness to the team


Anna & Kathy

The perfect accompaniment to a hard day in the office. Perfect in design, bursting with a broad mix of flavours and characteristics, there is an option for everyone depending on their requirements. Often crisp on the outside but fluffy in the middle, these angelic cakes are devilishly good at what they do. Everyone has their favourite – whether zesty or wholesome, this perfectly presented, irresistible duo help everyone make it through their daily grind!

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