My name is Mahsa Ghaffari, a 5th year graduate student in the department of Chemistry and biochemistry, and I work in the Ghosh Lab. This summer I had an opportunity to attend the 30th symposium of the Protein Society (PS) held in Baltimore, MD on July 16-19, 2016 to present my research. The PS, which was established in 1985, is where investigators across all disciplines of protein chemistry and from around the world get together to talk about protein structure, function, design and application. Besides providing the opportunity for scientific collaboration and communication, PS is one of the best places for professional and career development for young investigators through workshops and networking events.
Compared to other well-known conferences that consist of diverse fields of chemistry and biology, PS was more useful for my field of research, which is the study of protein kinases and phosphatases as the major traffic signals for the signaling pathways. During the poster session presenting my research I had a chance to talk to various types of scientists and graduate students and I received useful comments and feedbacks. In addition, I was able to go over other posters and get the flavor of ongoing research at the other institutes. I also had an opportunity to attend talks and presentations of many of the brilliant scientists from both academia and industry. Due to the confidentiality required for the research in industry it is not often easy to get exposed to the detailed research conducting in the companies. However, in the PS conference several famous biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Genentech and Eli Lily had presented their research. Moreover, I found an opportunity to talk to them individually about their long-term experience in industry.
Throughout the conference there were two career panels with the goal of helping people to understand different types of jobs associated with their fields of research from both academia and industry. Each panel consisted of four scientists and all four of them shared useful experiences about their own jobs, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of job and finally how to be prepared and qualified for academic or industrial roles in general.
I was fortunate to attend this conference with my labmates from the Ghosh group (Javier Castillo-Montoya, Chandi deSilva and Matthew Bienick) and have even more pleasant time in Baltimore. I am so grateful for my travel award from the Protein Society as well as NIH funding for covering my travel expenses for this informative and inspiring four-day conference.