Conference reflection: American Association for the Advancement of Science 2018 Annual Meeting

In February 2018, I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. I presented my dissertation research as a poster in the new E-poster format and spent a ton of time networking and learning about science communication.

I was awarded the Helen F. Holt Scholarship for Young Women in Science to pay my travel expenses for the meeting. The award breakfast where my award was presented was the highlight of the meeting. I got to hear my own accomplishments read out by Rush Holt himself, and for the first time I realized just how much I have managed to accomplish in graduate school.


award breakfast

2018 Travel Award winners with AAAS CEO Rush Holt at the Minority and Women Scientists and Engineers Breakfast. 


I presented my poster as an E-poster, a new format this year for the AAAS meeting. Essentially, we submitted a PDF version of our poster to them and presented it on an 80 inch monitor. Good news: no poster tube in the airport! Bad news: the resolution is still only 1920×1080, so be careful with your text and line sizes. To present our poster, we arrived at one of several “pods” in the exhibit hall and waited our turn. Each presenter got 5 minutes – 3 minutes to present the poster and 2 minutes for questions. Judges sat in front of the poster and interested people milled about the poster area. I enjoyed presenting for judges and the opportunity to win a poster award, but I also felt that many people who wanted to see my poster did not get a chance. Although the posters were available for viewing in the annual meeting app, I don’t know anyone who used this feature. That meant that about 15 people saw my poster for 5 minutes, and anyone else who might have been interested missed it.  However, the future of this format is promising. Perhaps by lengthening the time a presenter stands by their poster and making the posters more obvious in the app, we could strike a good balance between efficiency and effectiveness.

I enjoyed Austin, Texas, a new city for me. The bar scene on Rainey Street is adorable and fun. I played Cornhole in what felt like someone’s backyard with some fellow Friends of Joe’s Big Idea (FOJBIs). I had a chance to catch up with a long time friend and mentor who introduced me to some fabulous Tex-Mex food. I’d love to go back for a vacation!



A few Friends of Joe’s Big Idea hanging out on Rainey St. Love this awesome community of science communicators.



About Torrey Truszkowski

Torrey is a sixth year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Brown University. Her research investigates the connections between brain cells that process sensory information. She hosts the Providence, Rhode Island Nerd Nite ( and teaches science communication. After graduating, she plans to embed science communication into her work. Find me on Twitter @TorreyTruszko
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