Over the first week of December, 2016, I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland to attend the Motor Neurone Disease Association Symposium. While attending the meeting was the main purpose of my trip, I was also able to explore the city of Dublin during the three days before the meeting started. During my escapades, I ventured all over the city as my thirst for exploration set in. One of the highlights of this portion of my trip included a visit to Trinity College, where I spent several hours wandering the grounds of the campus and perusing the library, basking in the afterglow of eminent figures who had studied and stayed there in the past. I also particularly enjoyed finding placards, memorials, and even a museum dedicated to James Joyce, the ever-controversial Irish author who still serves as a staple for the arts and public commentary in the Dublin community.
Once the more touristy part of my trip concluded, it was time to commence the meeting. While I have attended large meetings in the past and had a sense for what to expect, I could not help being impressed and amazed throughout. As the only undergraduate in attendance, I felt slightly intimidated at the beginning, but this feeling diminished rapidly as the meeting progressed. Being smaller and more intimate than ones I was used to, it afforded me the opportunity to hear every presentation and engage on a more meaningful level with leaders in the field of neurodegeneration research, particularly those focused on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the subject of my research. The most memorable part of the meeting occurred during the poster presentation when I found myself talking to Luc Dupuis, one of the more prominent investigators of metabolic defects in ALS, and whose publication was also cited on my poster. While I had listened to presentations of several distinguished scientists over the two days preceding the poster session, interacting with Dr. Dupuis and others in person was both a humbling and inspiring experience.
Overall, I felt that this trip provided the opportunity for me to grow, not only as a member of the scientific community, but also as a citizen of the world through my experience learning about and living among people of a different culture. As a result, I would like to extend my gratitude to Associated Foundations for sponsoring me and providing the funding to make such an excursion possible.