On March 29, London Health Research Day (LHRD) will take place at the London Convention Centre and DoubleTree by Hilton London Ontario. Research being performed by trainees and postdoctoral scholars will be showcased through presentations and posters, and faculty, clinicians and students from every department at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry will be in attendance.
Each year, this major event is planned very carefully by Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Lawson Health Research Institute — it’s an event you do not want to miss. Below are five reasons that LHRD is the event to attend on March 29.
1) It is a great opportunity to network with people in London
With several research sites scattered throughout the city, LHRD is the one opportunity each year where trainees, postdoctoral fellows and researchers will be in the same place at the same time. Networking at LHRD provides the chance to enable collaboration and the sharing of resources between labs close by, as we don’t have to go to Toronto, Hamilton or Windsor to get experiments done the way we want to. It’s easier to meet with these people over coffee to discuss results or continue planning because you’re in the same city.
2) It is great practice for international conferences
Do you really want the first time you present your data to be at a big international conference? For many people, it takes a bit of practice to feel comfortable presenting in front of large audiences and answering questions about your research. Getting as much experience under your belt before you travel out of London is truly the best practice as a trainee, and LHRD is the perfect opportunity to do so on your home court.
3) It is an opportunity to attend career workshops
If you are like many other graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, you may not be sure about what you want to do with your life. Lucky for you, LHRD offers workshops that will give you the opportunity to explore possibilities for future career paths inside and outside academia. These include how to follow the academic trail from graduate studies to postdoctoral fellowships and land a professorship position, work as a consultant, or pursue careers in industry. Learn from professionals in the field who have been through what we are experiencing right now — they can bring a different type of expertise you will not get from your supervisor or at the campus career centre.
4) Your friends will be there
This might sound cheesy, but I have formed a lot of great memories with my friends at LHRD. I have watched them give their first big platform presentations, taken photos at early poster presentations, enjoyed the lunches and wine and cheese events, and actually had a great time seeing some of what they do for their research. It’s also nice to be there to support each other — it will bring you closer together.
5) It is the only event of its kind in London
LHRD draws in people from all over London, brings in experts from abroad, and showcases the research taking place in the city. It is quite the spectacle to see hundreds of poster and platform presentations discussing the innovative research taking place where we spend all of our time. The keynote lecture has yet to be anything less than fantastic, and this year I have high hopes for Dr. Peter Libby of Harvard University.
So you’ve decided to attend the event on March 29, and you may even be presenting a poster or platform presentation. Great! Here's some advice on how to make the most of the day:
1) Bring your A-game
Take the day seriously. Dress like you mean it, practice the five-minute talk about your research, and be ready for lots of questions. Treat your peers like they are scientists, because they are, and act like one yourself because that is what you do every day. Show your peers, your supervisor, your committee and research faculty what you have done and how bright you are. Study up and be ready for anything.
2) Look at the schedule ahead of time
Remember how I said there will be hundreds of posters and platform presentations? You will not have time to see all of them, so you will have to select based on what you are interested in. Don’t miss out because you weren’t prepared.
3) Come with questions in mind
It can be difficult to ask a question on the spot. Asking questions in front of other people can be just as nerve-racking as being the person up at the podium giving the presentation, but that shouldn’t stop you. You will get better and more confident at asking questions with practice. It helps to look at the schedule ahead of time, write down four or five questions and see if you have an opportunity to ask them, or anything else you come up with over the course of the day.
4) Stay for the whole day
I have noticed that many people leave as soon as they have presented their posters. If we do not stay the entire day, we can’t support our peers. We will also not be able to foster discussion and collaboration by being absent. Stay right until the end, enjoy some wine and cheese, and support everyone who has taken part in the day.
5) Talk to people
Science doesn’t move forward if we don’t talk about it. Whether you are an undergraduate volunteer, a graduate trainee, a postdoctoral fellow or an emeritus professor, what we do has huge implications for so many people around the world, even if it doesn’t seem that way sometimes. The piece of the puzzle you are working on might be an incredibly important one, but not until it is known by someone else. Talking to new people is the best way to create novel ideas not shared by just your lab mates and people in your field. London is full of experts from diverse backgrounds with many resources available to them. The capacity this city has for discovery is simply mind-blowing. Take advantage as much as you can and talk to others — you might learn something, and you might just change the world.
Whether you get a little better at scientific communication, get over nerves of presenting and asking questions, form a new friendship, or initiate a collaboration that ultimately cures a disease, the things you do at LHRD will have an impact on you and others. Enjoy it, relish it, and make use of the opportunities it provides for you. It will help you down the road.
See you all on March 29.
PhD Candidate, Department of Neuroscience
Chair, Graduate Students Council, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry