Paying it forward: find new ways to contribute to the BMB community at the ASBMB annual meeting

How do I thank Mr. Jonas, he wondered, for what he’s done? … Pass it on somehow, he thought, pass it on to someone else. Keep the chain moving. Look around, find someone, and pass it on. That was the only way.
– Ray Bradbury, “Dandelion Wine”

With the wealth of science on offer at the 2016 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, it is easy to overlook one of the most valuable and inspiring aspects of the event: the opportunity to contribute to the biochemistry and molecular biology community. Many of you joining us in San Diego have benefited from the support and guidance of other scientists. Here is a selection of ways to pay those kindnesses forward while you are at the meeting.

Everyone: support new sessions

This year’s meeting includes two new scientific sessions organized by graduate student and postdoc members of the society. The Straight from the Bench sessions focus on two exciting areas of research: Recent Advances in Protein Engineering, and Post-translational Modifications and the Microorganism Response. Each session includes presentations from keynote speakers and up-and-coming trainees and will take place from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, in Marina Ballrooms A and C of the San Diego Convention Center.  

Undergraduate students and faculty: start an ASBMB Student Chapter

The ASBMB Student Chapters are a national network of undergraduates and faculty members that provide on- and off-campus networking and career-development opportunities, along with grants and awards to support research and outreach. Why not grow the BMB community by starting a Student Chapter on your campus? Interested faculty members and students either can visit the ASBMB booth in the main exhibit hall or attend the session “Organizing a Successful ASBMB Chapter” at 6:15 p.m Monday, April 4, in Room 14A.

Postdocs and grad students: share your experience

If you’ve benefited from one of the ASBMB’s professional-development workshops, why not pay it forward by attending the undergraduate poster competition and talking to the presenters? The presenters will benefit from your knowledge of science and graduate school, and you will get to practice quizzing others about their projects. Posters will be on display from 12 – 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, in Rooms 6B, C and F.

Everyone: improve Wikipedia

Wikipedia is the go-to online reference source for the general public. In conjunction with the Wiki Education Foundation’s Year of Science, the ASBMB Public Outreach Committee is hosting an edit-a-thon to improve biochemistry and molecular biology content on the site. Share your expertise with millions of Wikipedia users and learn Wiki editing at the same time! Takes place 6:30 – 9 p.m. Monday, April 4,in Room 14B.

Faculty and equivalent: become a mentor

Mentorship doesn’t have to be restricted to supporting scientists on your own campus. Both the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee-sponsored Welcome and Networking Reception (7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, Marina Ballroom D) and the Women Scientists Networking Event (6:30 – 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, in Room 6A) provide informal opportunities to connect with students, postdocs, faculty members and others looking for career advice.

If you are looking for other opportunities to become a mentor, consider signing up for the National Institutes of Health’s National Research Mentoring Network, which offers four-month online mentorship experiences with regular guided interactions.

Faculty: become a more effective mentor

Training in BMB can be a gateway to a wide variety of careers, but it can be a challenge to provide guidance to those interested in career paths other than your own. Why not attend the session on “Integrating Complementary Skills into Graduate and Postdoctoral Training” (4 – 6:15 p.m. Sunday, April 3, Room 14A) or the panel discussion on “Maximizing Graduate and Postdoctoral Training for Non-Research STEM Careers” (1 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, Room 6A)? Both are focused on helping your mentees succeed, regardless of the careers they decide to pursue.

Looking for more ideas?

Stop by the ASBMB booth in the main exhibit hall to learn about even more opportunities to give back to the BMB community.

Andrew Macintyre Andrew Macintyre is an education and professional development manager at the ASBMB.