Posts Tagged ‘conference’

27th Annual Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium

November 8, 2015

Just finished the 2015 Symposia. This year I was an organizer of the symposia — which somehow even made the experience better.

2015 Fronters of Science

My favorite was the session on Personalized Medicine (obviously!) … but I can honestly say that every single session was interesting and engaging!

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Rocky Mountain Microbrewery Symposium

February 25, 2015

Guest post by Phillip Richmond

The Rocky Mountain Microbrewery Symposium is an event that was founded by the Center for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. As craft breweries—breweries that produce less than 6 million barrels of beer per year—gain popularity and momentum in today’s market, increased attention gets pulled towards what is essentially a tasty form of biotechnology. The Symposium is primarily targeted towards an audience of brewers from microbreweries across the state (as well as a few out-of-staters). Despite not having a formal biology background, these craftsmen seek out any opportunity to improve upon their art—even if that means exploring the potential of yeast genomics in their translation of wort to beer (more on this later).

The conference included talks about malt production from the self-proclaimed ‘maltoholic’ Tevis Vance at Great Western Malting Company, exploring the cultural and economic impact of craft brewing through documentaries, step-by-step walkthroughs of currently available brewing techniques and standards, a business-oriented view of beer distribution, and a detailed look at the development of sensory panels. By the end of the day my knowledge about brewing science had increased exponentially. One speaker even shed some light on the possibility of the buildup of acetaldehyde coming from either over- or under-pitching yeast into the fermentation tanks. As this is a problem that we are investigating with Avery, a follow-up with this speaker is in progress.

In addition to the talks, there were tables set up around the room with a few vendors offering their products to the brewers. My poster explaining the yeast DNA fingerprint assay we developed with Avery Brewing Company using Next-Generation Sequencing on the Illumina platform was displayed next to one of the brewing-supplies vendors. During one of the networking intermissions, we approached the group known as BSI—Brewing Science Institute—who maintain a catalogue of brewing yeast and distribute to a large number of microbreweries in Colorado as well as across the United States. Their two main competitors—Wyeast and White Labs—were also present at the symposium. The work we’ve done with Avery in genome-sequencing and fingerprinting diagnostics for Avery’s small set of yeast strains could be applicable to the entire catalogue for these yeast curators. Currently, all strain-specificity identification diagnostics for the existing collection—as far as we have determined—has been very qualitative: growth on different media, various smells of different types of yeast, colony morphology, etc. Genome-sequencing has the potential to usher in the next level of quality control for these unique yeast strains, as well as provide insight into some of the genomic differences that lead to different flavor profiles.

By the end of the day we had networked with multiple different breweries and brewing yeast distributors, learned a lot about the brewing process, been introduced to the rapidly growing culture of craft brewing, and sampled a variety of unique and delicious beers.

26th Annual Kavli Foundation Symposium

November 1, 2014

Just back from Irving, CA where I attended the Kavli Symposium. This symposia is unlike practically every other scientific meeting I’ve attended. It’s interdisciplinary, small, and well organized. Attendees are relatively young and the topics are cutting edge. It was a conference made for me (and my multiple personality science) and the best experience I’ve had in a long time.

Most of the talks are now online:

2014 Symposia Talks

My favorite sessions were on Paleogenomics and Visualization!

CU at the World iGEM Jamboree – a Student’s Perspective

December 5, 2013

Guest post by Josephina Hendrix

The thought of iGEM did not draw me in originally—It was like nothing I had ever done. But then I realized: It was like nothing I had ever done. Before me was a unique opportunity to explore synthetic biology that I could not receive in class or at work

Before summer started a group of prospective iGEMers met once a week to discuss ideas and after much debate we decided on DIY biology. The summer flew by as we worked with our advisors to design experiments and modified common lab protocols to be cheaper and less time consuming. These methods included DNA gel extractions and purification, protein purification and restriction enzyme production.

With a one-day poster, our protocols, and a broken methylase, we flew to the North American Regionals in Toronto. We arrived with low expectations but worked hard to pull off a very successful presentation. At the end of the weekend, we were awarded a gold metal for completing the requirements, “Best New Part, Engineered” for our RTX (a protein tag that precipitates out of solution at the addition of calcium), and an invitation to the global competition in Boston.

Our journey was not over.

We spent the taxi ride to the airport discussing necessary improvements and when the plane landed, it was back to the lab. With the extra time, we fixed the methylase, produced a restriction enzyme, and further characterized RTX and our other methods.

In four short weeks, we boarded another plane destined for MIT, Boston. We brought a new updated poster and a presentation that we had already rehearsed — unlike last time. This allowed us to spend more time on Friday and Saturday hanging out as a team and watching presentations by our peers.

Even though we arrived better rehearsed for our presentation, we were not prepared for the change in atmosphere. Our competition suddenly increased as we competed not only with the North American schools, but the best of Europe, Asia, and Latin America. As the stakes increased, socializing between the teams decreased and the poster session suddenly involved costumes, candy, and key chains. Being a low budget team we did not have fancy eye-catchers; however, we still drew a wide audience. One student from another team told us to ‘please get the other restriction enzymes’ so their school would not run into a supply storage like they did this year. Peers and judges alike were eager to try our low budget protocols, restriction enzymes, and our RTX precipitation.

Unfortunately, we did not take home a trophy but it was not a loss. We each gained unique, hands on experience and learned to problem solve when something went wrong—which happened quite often. More importantly, we pulled together from different stages of life and different departments and completed a project we could call our own.

We’ll see you next year, Boston.

Butcher Symposium 2013

November 22, 2013
Guest post by David Knox

The Butcher Symposium was initiated in 2002 to bring together scientists from across the CU system to promote new collaborations. The Symposium also shares the progress of research previously funded by Butcher Seed Grants. The symposium is held every other year and this year it was held on November 1, 2013, in Westminster, Colorado. Traditionally the Symposium has been restricted to only CU-affiliated faculty and all attendees are required to present a poster at the symposium to be eligible to apply for the Seed grant. This year, for the first time, graduate students were also invited to participate. In parallel with the faculty program, students were required to participate in the poster session to apply for the BioFrontiers Science Alliance (BFSA) Seed Grant program.

The format for the Symposium featured recipients of the 2012 grants giving short talks outlining their progress (scientific, publications and continuing funding) of their proposal. The morning session consisted of 10 talks with a strong medical flavor featuring speakers from National Jewish Health, Anschutz Medical campus, and CU Boulder. Lunch is served at the very dynamic poster session. This year there were nearly 150 faculty and another 40 student posters. The poster session is a perfect venue for finding collaborations. People from five different campuses are able to interact. It is among the most energetic poster session I have attended. Unfortunately, there are too many people and interesting posters to visit in the two hours dedicated to the session. I had a list of 12 posters I wanted to visit and only made it to 6 of them, as I needed to be at my poster for half the time.

The afternoon session continued with longer talks from Dr. Robin Dowell – MCDB Boulder, Dr. David Schwartz – Chair of Medicine at Anschutz Medical Campus, and Dr. Lee Niswander – Children’s Hospital and Developmental Biology at Anschutz. The keynote talk was from Nobel laureate Dr. Jack Szostak about his research into the mechanisms and chemistry that could have been used in the earliest primitive environments and creation of self-replicating membranes in a primordial environment.

The newly created seed grant program for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, BioFrontiers Science Alliance Seed Grant Award Program, is modeled on the successful Butcher Program that awards seed grants to fund collaborative and potentially transformative bioscience research. BFSA aims to build on existing institutional resources to encourage scientific creativity by supporting the independent research projects designed and proposed by graduate students and postdocs.

The primary goals of this award are to provide graduate students and postdocs with opportunities to:

• Tap into their own creativity and independently design and follow through on their own research ideas (not those of their faculty advisor)
• Pursue interdisciplinary collaborative projects that represent a significant new research direction
• Collaborate with diverse colleagues at CU Boulder and at other Colorado research organizations
• Participate in and expand the membership of the BioFrontiers Science Alliance
• Gain practical experience in the grant review and award processes.

For more information about BFSA and these events, please visit us at the BioFrontiers Science Alliance website.