Side Post: My experience at the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Meeting in Atlanta

Hello everyone,

From June 23-26, seven research students (including myself) and our lab PI professor Heideman went to the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Firstly, I would highly recommend anyone thinking of a future in scientific research to attend a conference in their respective fields. Some experiences and realizations are positive and some are negative, but all proved to be crucial in my understanding of what it would mean to live as a scientific researcher.

I’ll start off with the more negative realizations. Scientific research is hard and complicated. As a rising sophomore, having only taken the introductory biology courses, I was confused at least half of the time in 90% of the talks. The work that is being funded and being published and gaining interest is currently at a very high level. One needs to know highly detailed information, highly in depth understanding, and highly skilled techniques to be able to do successful research in the current scientific arena. This is intimidating to say the least.

Now for the more positive realizations. Scientific research is exciting and provides an amazing scope of possible discovery. Even though the progression of our understanding of the natural world has accelerated over the years, I could still feel an underlying sense of “we haven’t even scratched the surface” mentality in the talks that were given. This is exciting for me. If there was a future in anything, there is a future in scientific research.

Not only do we not understand alot, but I now understand that we don’t know a lot about broad and diverse areas of knowledge. I came into the conference thinking that “Behavioral Neuroendocirinology” was a cut and dry area that we know alot about already and are now only working out the details. Now I understand the true scope of this field as it ranges from maternal behavior and how we feel and take care of our young to specific co-receptors on an obscure steroid pathway in the recesses of the brain. Even in this narrow field of study, there is so much we have still yet to learn.

Another hopeful sign for a future in scientific research is the quality of the people one works with. People who become successful at research are not total recluses that are totally immersed in their work and research alone. In fact, from being with top-notch scientists for a few days, being a recluse and isolated is actually detrimental to scientific growth. People who succeed in science know how to synthesize and connect different ideas from different people in different areas. They learn new techniques and methods. They talk and give advice about the work that they do. They are able to understand their work better by talking and explaining it to others. Scientists, the good ones, are friendly and amiable. They have a hard job but enjoy the company of others. I truly enjoyed being around them.

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My lab mates and I in Atlanta for the SBN conference

Overall, my experience at SBN was a good one. I got closer to my lab and grew as a researcher and scientist. I am excited to discover new things in lab and revived my enthusiasm for my project.