Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference- Cameron Varano

Name: Cameron Varano

Role: Doctoral Student

Program: Translational Biology, Medicine and Health

Meeting: Microscopy and Microanalysis (2017)

I was able to attend the Microscopy and Microanalysis 2017 (M&M) conference held in St. Louis, MO. This opportunity was made possible thanks in part to a Travel Award from the BEST program. This was the 75th anniversary meeting, the first taking place in 1942 in Chicago, IL. The meeting is organized and sponsored by The Microscopy Society of America (MSA). MSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and advancement of techniques and applications of microscopy and microanalysis in all relevant scientific disciplines. Beyond this year’s conference being a milestone anniversary, it was also the inaugural year for the MSA Student Council (StC). The StC hosted a pre-meeting congress for student and early-career professionals. The event, PMCx60, was a smashing success and the first of its kind. I had the honor of serving as StC Secretary for the past year, as well as, serving as a Co-Chair for PMCx60.

The Student Council has been charged by the MSA Council to create a culture at M&M which engages young scientists. The PMCx60 was the flag ship event to achieve this goal. We worked to plan and execute an event that served young scientists both in biological and physical sciences a like. Creating a forum for professional development and networking. The planning and execution of this event has been by far the most impactful experience of my graduate career. I spent the better part of a year working with other graduate students and post docs from across the country and across disciplines planning the PMCx60. We, of course, received guidance and feedback from the MSA Council. Naturally, this meeting allowed me greater exposure to the world of microscopy, the running of a large non-profit and interactions with peers in my field of study.

A bit about the meeting, which as mentioned above took place in St. Louis, MO over the course of five days. As a member of Student Council leadership, I arrived along with the rest of the leadership on Thursday for meeting preparations and council business. These two days are when I gain insight into the running of a scientific society. I was in awe of the well-organized and collaborative structure. Plans for the 2023 meeting were already being discussed, along with the health and security of the organization. It was encouraging to see the leadership of the organization continually basing decisions on the mission of the organization. The first event of the meeting was the PMCx60 for students and early-career professionals held on Saturday. Additional pre-meeting congresses were held on Sunday. Talks began Monday morning with plenary talks from Dr. Eric Betzig and Dr. Keith Riles. Focused sessions continued through Thursday afternoon.

I was fortunate enough to have attended last year. This gave me the benefit of experience for preparing for such a large conference. I engaged in great conversations with representatives from industry, specifically Thermo Fisher and Protochips. I also had the opportunity have lunch with a representative from NIST. My professional networking included interactions with the senior members of MSA. National meetings can be overwhelming due to the size of the event. I found it most helpful to have a rough plan, but to allow plenty of time to wander and find talks and booths that I may have otherwise missed.