Looking forward to this year’s OHBM annual meeting, but not sure what to expect from a conference in 2022? While OHBM2022 will have both a hybrid and virtual experience, meeting in-person in Glasgow will offer unique opportunities to (re-)connect with brain-mapping colleagues. The Student-Postdoc Special Interest Group (SP-SIG) has some tips and tricks for making the most of the in-person experience! Check out their post below, originally shared on the SP-SIG blog.
This year, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) is planning an in person, hybrid Annual Meeting from Sunday, June 19th to Thursday, June 23rd at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, Scotland. Virtual keynotes and poster sessions will occur from June 7–8th, 2022. Scientific conferences are an integral part of most scientific disciplines, providing scientists of all career stages the opportunity to share new research. They allow attendees to deepen their understanding of a topic, to meet new people, and to gain fresh perspectives in different disciplines. Multiple days of uninterrupted learning and sharing of ideas with others in the neuroimaging community might sound like a dream come true to some. It may be quite daunting for others, as we emerge from two years of remote life, with limited social stimulation. Furthermore, for many, this will be the first in-person conference of their scientific careers. Here, we hope to share some tips and guidelines for maximizing your experience at the conference.
Make a plan
First, it’s a great idea to keep an eye on the conference website and your emails for any important updates regarding the conference itself. Registering early is a great way to receive all this information in advance. Once the conference program is released, take some time to read through the different speakers and sessions offered and make yourself a personalized conference schedule. In terms of prioritization, it’s good practice to attend the keynote sessions, as they provide a broad perspective on the main research themes the field is tackling. Second, you may want to plan on attending more technical presentations specifically related to your research field to see what the cutting-edge techniques and findings are. The poster session, both virtual and in person this year, is another great way to engage with your peers and have more informal discussions about new research methods and topics. The OHBM Student and Postdoc Special Interest Group (SP-SIG) offers a number of events aimed at supporting trainee career development, such as roundtables, and the Lunch with mentors*. Finally, attending social and networking events, such as the SP-SIG Monday Night Social, is a great way to get to know your colleagues at a personal level and have some fun!
Engage with others and prepare to talk about your research
It may be helpful to come up with a plan for how to talk about your research and your interests. You can practice a brief 1–2 minute elevator pitch for an initial introduction, as well as a slightly longer version if whoever you are speaking with expresses interest. Make sure to ask others about their research, listen actively, and ask follow-up questions. If the exchange goes well, you can make a note of their name, affiliation, and/or email, to get in touch later. If you are a mentor or if you have been at the conference in previous years, it can be helpful to reach out to mentees or newcomers and help them feel comfortable by making some introductions and normalizing the experience of feeling nervous or overwhelmed at a conference. Welcoming newcomers with a positive and curious attitude and being respectful of cultural differences can help students from different backgrounds feel supported as well.
Tips for preparing your poster
If this is your first time presenting a poster, you can reach out to your mentor and colleagues to see some templates and get some advice on how to prepare. Some important tips for designing a clear and engaging poster include:
Although it can feel intimidating, presenting a poster is an excellent opportunity to gain feedback on your research and interact with scientists working in a similar field to yours. It can be helpful to assess how knowledgeable your audience is on your topic and to gauge how broad or detailed your presentation should be. While you present, engage your audience and orient them by pointing out important information. It can be helpful to think about the following questions as you prepare:
The OHBM Executive Office and Sustainability & Environmental Action Special Interest Group (SEA-SIG) are working hard to try and reduce the environmental impact of our annual meeting. One of the many reasons the SEC venue was chosen is for its commitment to reducing the environmental impact of events that it hosts. On the OHBM website you can book accommodation for your stay in Glasgow using the Glasgow Convention Bureau, which has negotiated special rates for many ‘green hotels’.
While at the conference, be sure to attend the SEA-SIG’s symposium, where they will discuss the carbon footprint of past OHBM annual meetings and outline a vision for a more sustainable meeting format in hopes of minimizing that footprint. They will also discuss the footprint of big data analysis, a mainstay of many lines of research in neuroimaging, and give us tips on how we can layer environmentally-conscious questions into our research. Additionally, the SEA-SIG will organize a welcome picnic, featuring plant-based food, as well as an online social event. If you’re traveling to Glasgow from another European city, look out for some ‘networking-on-the-train’ travel parties, to be announced on their blog.
Work in some self care and explore!
While the event itself is at the heart of the experience, the opportunity to travel and explore a new surrounding is also important. The Scottish Event Campus is located 3 minutes away (by train) from the city center, so make sure to go explore the great city you’re in. If the conference is local for you, you can serve as a travel guide for your colleagues and new friends. You can take your mind off science by having a walk in the Necropolis gardens or Botanical gardens to enjoy the calming presence of nature, or in true Scottish style, the National Piping Center and Bagpipe museum. Finally, do not forget to enjoy the local food and drinks.
For parents and caregivers
Small grants up to $500 per family are available for attendees of the OHBM Annual Meeting who are bringing young children or dependents to a meeting or who incur extra expenses for caregiving during the meeting. Apply for this grant by clicking here no later than Sunday, May 1st by 24.00H (US-Central). The OHBM meeting also provides family/lactation rooms!
* All the Student and Postdoc SIG events (Lunch with mentors, social event, symposium and roundtables) will be announced a few weeks before the conference by email and on Twitter so make sure to follow us to receive the most updated information and registration forms when needed!