I recently attended a Gordon Research Conference on Cell migration, in Galveston (Texas), 19 – 25 January 2019 , at a very beautiful location with the perfect weather. My first ever GRC – it was very exciting!
The conference focused on the regulation of cell migration through the integration of biochemical signals, cytoskeletal alterations and physical forces. Starting off with a GRS for 2 days, where young researchers such as PhDs and post-docs were given the opportunity to present their work, to an intensive 5-day GRC with mainly PIs presenting work from their labs, the conference proved to be very informative and thought provoking.
I also had the privilege to chair a session at the GRS, which gave me an additional opportunity to interact with fellow researchers. It was very interesting to watch my PI, Sandrine Etienne-Manneville, present our work on microtubules in mechanosensitive cell migration. The talk was very well-received with new ideas/questions to explore. I also had great feedback during my poster presentation and so my ‘to-do list’ gets longer!
One of my favourite sessions at the conference was the ‘Power Hour’ hosted by Denise Montell (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA) and Sandrine Etienne-Manneville, aimed at addressing issues faced by women in science and
to discuss possible solutions to overcome these challenges. Sandrine shared her experiences and provided valuable advice on work-life balance (you can also read more about it in her latest article – (Etienne-Manneville, 2018)).
We discussed several issues such as awareness of gender bias, unconscious gender bias, personal and family commitments, differences in salaries of men and women for equivalent positions and the hiring process of women vs men (Carter et al., 2018). Simple initiatives such as starting the questions after a talk with one from a female in the audience can indeed change a lot in terms of women representation.
Take home message of the session was that we all need to be aware of the existing gender bias and work towards enabling equal opportunities; Women – be assertive and confident, voice your opinions and be heard!
After the conference, I went on a very refreshing mini holiday to visit my sister and travelled with her to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks for some hiking!
Carter, A.J., A. Croft, D. Lukas, and G.M. Sandstrom. 2018. Women’s visibility in academic seminars: Women ask fewer questions than men. PloS one. 13:e0202743.
Etienne-Manneville, S. 2018. Having it all, a scientific career and a family. Nature cell biology. 20:1001-1001.