The International Worm Meeting

Every two years, the community of worm researchers meets in Los Angeles for the International C. elegans Meeting.  Sometimes people are surprised that there are 1500 people that are willing to come from all over the world to the UCLA campus to talk about worm science for days on end, but it’s actually a pretty common feature of a scientist’s life, and worm researchers are no exception.

What do we do at these meetings?  One of the main reasons people go is to keep up to date with the latest work in the field, so a lot of the time is spent watching other researchers speak about their work in lecture theatres.

presentation in main auditorium

A presentation in the main auditorium at the 2013 worm meeting.

This is nice because you can often hear about work in progress before it’s been published in journals (which are the main way that scientific results are communicated).  It’s also an excellent opportunity for more informal interactions.  This is where you can learn about which techniques work well and which are a pain to use.  You can brainstorm with your friends or people you just met and if you happen to come up with an idea you’re both excited about you might even initiate a collaboration.  These more informal interactions are difficult to reproduce without a face-to-face meeting.  That’s why scientific meetings are important and why they probably won’t go away despite the increasing ease of communicating online.

Meetings are also a good way of fostering a community spirit, and what better way to do that than through humour?  At the end of the meeting Curtis Loer and Morris Maduro put together a fantastic Worm Variety Show.  The best part is that it’s available online (warning, extremely nerdy jokes that often require abnormal familiarity with worms and/or genetics to understand!).  Perhaps the best part is The Lab, a spoof of The Office (at 52:28 in the video) which you’ll probably appreciate if you’ve spent much time working in a biology lab.  Enjoy!

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About André Brown

I'm a scientist with the Medical Research Council in the UK.

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