14 November 2011

Neuroscience 2011, Day 2

The dead zone.

They don’t call it that. But they should.

Way down at the far end of the Neuroscience poster and vendor hall, past the A through Z row of posters, past the AA row, almost down to the ZZ and the start of the triple AAA are a set of posters that deal with teaching of neuroscience, history of neuroscience, and other miscellaneous topics. It’s usually quiet back there. There’s more blank spots than in the main sessions, which I assume to indicate that more people just don’t bother finishing their posters.

I want to make a plea for the posters back there. If you don’t go and look through there at least once, you’re missing some of the most interesting posters at Neuroscience.

Tucked away back there was a poster about a teacher who brought a gun to class so he could talk about how gunshot wounds were used in the study of brain function. His last line was about giving up this teaching instrument when they pried it from his cold, dead fingers.

There’s more character in that one line than about an entire row of regular posters.

(Alas, I must also name and shame this poster, AAA33, along with ZZ35, for using Comic Sans.)

I also found my favourite poster graphically back there. It was a poster on how incomprehensible the neuroscience literature was, loaded with rare obscure words and other issues. It was basically a great big word cloud (a la Wordle) of the most commonly appearing words in neuroscience articles that he had analyzed. When you came in close, you saw that one word in the center, “Effect,” was actually made up of lines of small type which was the main text describing the methods and results.

There was a history poster about the mental health of Emile Zola, and how at one point the Europeans had a penchant for trying to preserve the brains of eminent individuals.

I found a teaching poster that looked to have some interesting methodology that I can adopt myself.

And the Backyard Brains guys were there, too. Drugmonkey covered how great these guys are. I met them later, and can vouch for their great indie spirit. (I actually met them later, at the Neuroethology social. They had gotten the data today for their poster that will be Tuesday or Wednesday.)

The vendor hall opened up in the morning, and I went around returning postcards that had been mailed to me the week before, in most cases in exchange for swag or a draw to enter a prize. I got a few handy tools (“Hey, I needed another lab stopwatch!”) in addition to some useful chats with people on teaching gear.

But when I walked into booth 308 to hand back my postcard, I was surprised to be greeted much more warmly than I had any right to be. I had written a guest blog post for Biodata, “Why your mentor sucks and how to fix it,” which was apparently pretty popular. But the booth didn’t say Biodata... it said Labguru, so I hadn’t recognized that it was the same group of people. Labguru is billed as a “lab management” system, and I’ll be very interested to see it in action. (Shill alert: The Labguru folks gave me a T-shirt, and asked me for a tweet.)

Finally, I would like to thank those who came by the poster by Sakshi and I had this afternoon. It was incredibly gratifying to have your interest and comments and questions. Even my pseudonymous tweeps who don’t volunteer their handles (you know who you are, Namnezia). We were kept so busy that we did not have a chance to see many other posters, so I apologize if I missed yours.

1 comment:

Ewan said...

I was sadly disappointed when I went to see the Theme H stuff this morning and found it gone. Previous years those posters got to stay up for the whole time, which I thought was great - not so this year, alas.