SFN, 2015: Chicago Edition.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.50.52 PMHello from the skies! 1 hour and 25 minutes left before touch down at ORD. Then, to a taxi. Then, to the hotel. Then, to sleep. Tomorrow: SFN, 2015. Chicago Edition. I’m excited and honored to be selected as an official blogger for the conference this year. Check out this year’s team of bloggers here. Of course, this list does not cover the many talented writers who will be active on social media this year (and there are many!) so be sure to explore the Twitter feeds using #sfn15 hashtag.

I spent all of the last flight (from Sacramento to Dallas Forth-Worth) on the Neuroscience Meeting Planner working on my itinerary for the next few days. For those of you who have smartypants phones, don’t forget: there’s an app for that! If you create your itinerary on your computer, your phone will automatically sync your schedule for you. I’m looking forward to not toting around a canvas bag full of paper schedules this year. This will be a first.

In fact, while this is not my first sfn rodeo, there are a few “firsts” for me this year and I’m very happy about them. No doubt, you’ve come across articles from sfn veterans sharing their wisdom (hash: #sfnprotips) from the little things like:

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 9.13.15 PM

…to the bigger things (like how to network without being a pompous peacock). Likewise, my own personal “how to succeed at sfn” manifesto includes a mix of big picture items and little-details-that-make-a-big-difference items which may or may not also be useful for you, dear reader. All protocols need modifications (including my own). This year, instead of writing a guide for what you should do, I’m simply going to share some of my own protocol amendments:

This year:  

  • I began online networking and tweeting early. Turns out that social media is a much more powerful tool if you can engage yourself with the online community and participate in trending conversations. Or, non-trending if you’re a hipster tweeter.
  • I used MakeSigns.com have my poster printed and sent ahead of me in Chicago. I present on Monday and my poster will be delivered to my hotel on Saturday. In case you think this is a luxurious option, it’s really not. The posters were affordable and the transaction was a smooth and pleasant process. One less thing to check? check.
  • I used the Neuroscience Meeting Planner tool to create an itinerary ahead of time. Yes, I’ve done this before but this time: I didn’t add everything and anything that looked slightly of interest or include a single “but I probably should go to this” session on my list. This year, my itinerary only includes sessions that I am truly excited about, will help inform my own research, or develop me professionally.  As my college biology teacher once told me, “there are only 24 hours in a day and this applies to everyone” To this I would add: and thus, spend your energy wisely. NB: Conference burnout is real.
  • I did not pack a single pair of uncomfortable shoes. I just didn’t. I’m very happy about this. It was a hard earned (and blistery) lesson, but this year the lineup includes: my Sorel boots, Toms flats and cushy loafers. Sauconys were also packed to ensure that running does happen.
  • I chose outfits that I feel good about. This may sound superficial, but damn, if we’ve learned anything from Stacy London it’s that what you wear actually does affect your mindset. I put the formal dress away and put together a nice pair of jeans, my favorite t-shirt and a jacket for poster day – because then: I won’t be thinking about my clothes. I’ll just be wearing them. When I talk about my science, I want it to be the only thing on my mind.

I’ve been instructed to put my large, electronic device away. Until tomorrow.

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