A Look Back at the Society for In Vitro Biology 2015 Annual Meeting
For the 2015 annual meeting, the SIVB returned to Tucson, Arizona and the El Conquistador Resort. The meeting was a rousing success and there are many people to recognize for their contributions. The section program chairs, Sukhpreet Sandhu (PBS Program Chair), Michael Dame (IVACS Program Chair), Vivian Dayeh (Education Chair), Ningning Zhang (PBS Student Co-Chair) and Shaimar Gozalez (IVACS Student Co-Chair) with their respective committees did an outstanding job of preparing and executing the scientific program.
This year, the program was designed to appeal to all sections over the full three and a half days of the meeting. There was also the bonus of a hand-on education workshop “Good Teaching Is.?”(Vivian Dayeh convener), that was held on Saturday afternoon. This workshop was fully subscribed and very well received.
Four plenary sessions were organized and included some topics with a different focus from our traditional plenary science. Sunday began with “The Stem Cell State – Implications for Growth and Disease” (Michael Dame and William Gordon conveners) which focused on human stem cells and plant meristem cell biology in normal development and disease. The Monday plenary session was “Epigenetic Control of Phenotypic Gene Expression” (Brad Upham and Sukhpreet Sandhu conveners) covered epigenetic control of childhood asthma, plant-pathogen interaction and heritable changes that influence plant growth. The Tuesday plenary moved from the strict focus on cell biology with “Bridging the Great Divide: New Methods to Communicate Science to Non-Scientists” (Todd Jones and Patrick McNutt conveners). Dr. Adam Rubin talked about how the non-science world views scientists and science as vastly different from how we see ourselves. Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi focused on being “real’ as scientists and the critical importance of trust and direct mentoring in professional development (including his). Wednesday’s plenary “From Small Cells to Big Data: Challenges and Solutions for Effective Data Management” (Addy Alt-Holland, Kathryn Houk, Patrick McNutt, and Sukhpreet Sandhu conveners) looked at the challenges of organizing, distributing, and protecting large data sets.
Symposia, workshops, contributed paper sessions and posters are always a mainstay of the annual meeting and this year was no exception. The Plant Biotechnology Section had eight symposia (and one joint with the animal cell section), multiple contributed paper oral sessions (both competitive and not), poster discussion sessions and lots of posters. The In Vitro Animal Cell Section had 7 symposia, competitive and non-competitive contributed paper oral sessions, poster discussion sessions and posters.
The student section, complete with a popular 2015 tee shirt for the occasion, offered a workshop on interviewing which drew on the experiences of members from diverse employment backgrounds. The Student Luncheon “Networking Platform” was fully subscribed and very successful. Given the importance of public speaking/oral presentations, a non-competitive student oral presentation session was convened by Ningning Zhang and Shaimar Gonzalez to hear presentations and provide feedback from SIVB members.
Sunday afternoon, the Opening Ceremony was conducted by our society president, Eugene Elmore and included the Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. Keynote Symposium and presentation of awards. The Keynote lecture was delivered by Dr. Calvin Kuo, Stanford University, on the engineering and application of human gastrointestinal organoids to the understanding of cancer biology and development of therapeutic modalities. The awards ceremony followed with the presentation of the 2015 Fellow and Young Scientist Awards (Harold Trick (Kansas State University) and Zeng-Yu Wang (The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation), respectively. The 2015 Distinguished Service awards (discussed in detail under awards) and the Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented. Drs. Gertrude C. Buehring (University of California, Berkeley) and Delia R. Bethell were this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. In their acknowledgement remarks, both recipients focused on the teaching and mentoring mission of the society. Dr. Buehring spoke of the luminaries in tissue culture who freely gave of their time to help and to advise young scientists in their respective fields. Dr. Bethell spoke of the importance of a unified society and challenges overcome to achieve that goal. She also shared some historical photographs of now senior members in their relative youth.
Much of the important interaction, mentoring and collaboration go on during the social events of the meeting. The business office did an exemplary job of arranging the opening reception (Saturday), keynote speaker/lifetime achievement awards reception (Sunday), the joint social after the business meetings (Monday), and the evening at the Sonora Desert Museum (Tuesday). The first three were free to all participants and brought all of the sections together. Intellectual exchange was facilitated by the generous liquid contributions by one of our sponsors. The Sonora Desert Museum event was fully subscribed (as usual) and was an evening to remember.
The work of many people made this meeting a success. Program chairs, conveners, speakers, poster presenters, exhibitors, and attendees all deserve great credit. Our donors and exhibitors help pay for the meeting and make many of the extra enhancements possible. To them we say thank you. Finally, I want to recognize the tremendous efforts and dedication of the members of the business office whose efforts began years before the meeting in negotiating the site, arranging exhibitors and working out the details. Until I became program chair, I had no idea how many emails were sent and received to keep the program on track and on budget. As a society, we are so very fortunate to have such support!
Submitted by John W. Harbell, 2015 Program Chair