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OBASM 2010 Conference

April 20, 2010

This past weekend I attended the Ohio Branch American Society for Microbiology Conference.

A Disorganized Beginning

I wasn’t pleased with the preparations & planning of this conference. For those of you who know me, that may not actually be much of a surprise, lol.

They took a very long time to post the needed information to register & the registration form. They had the 2009 information up on the website evening after changing the link to read “2010” so it was easy to get the wrong information if you checked the site too early. They made several promised deadlines for when the information would come up- and they failed to meet all of those deadlines. They only accepted mailed checks for registration fees- which cause some chaos as we were planning on paying with a purchase card- and now I have to wait to be reimbursed. They didn’t form the students as to whether or not they would be doing a poster presentation or giving a talk til THREE days before the conference- not enough time to do either successfully. They didn’t respond to e-mails promptly, and many they didn’t even respond to at all. Information on the website was often contradictory to what they said in person or via e-mail.

Organizational fail!

One Horrible Hotel

The hotel was possibly more disorganized than the conference coordinators. It took at 3 phone calls to get my reservation straightened out. The staff were difficult to understand and had no idea what was going on. One staff member informed us that the general manager was recently fired- I could see why.

Check-in was easy & the staff at the desk when I arrived was very helpful.

The hotel itself was mediocre at best. It lacked many of the small things I take for granted in a hotel room- such as card with the tv channel listing & instructions on how to access the internet. The room was small and smelly, and looked rather worn. The room was inadequately cleaned, and there was a layer of a greasy substance on the chair.

The room was supposed to be covered by the conference. It was first come, first serve for 15 rooms paid for by the conference. Well, the hotel ended up booking 28 student rooms (which they confirmed they had listed as student rooms) due to a staff communication error. The morning manager was a unfriendly man who was insisting that the students needed to pay, despite us being told we were all set the evening before.

Fortunately, the issue was resolved before we left the conference, and the coordinators handled it. Still, I will consider very careful before staying in a Days Inn again.

A Cool Conference Center

The conference was held at the Proctor & Gamble Conference Center in Mason, Ohio. It was very nice. The security folks were friendly, the A/V equipment was great and the place was very clean. The seats in each of the conference rooms were comfortable. The rooms- even the main auditorium- had counters in front of the seats convenient for note-taking and holding of beverages and food.

I was impressed with P&G, and even more impressed when I learned that P&G wasn’t charging for the use of the space. But it made me wonder, if OBASM was saving so much on the center, why couldn’t we have spent more on the hotel?

Yummy Catering!

The food was pretty delicious and I was impressed with the quantity, variety and quality available. They fed us pretty well. I was particularly fond of Friday night, when they had a plethora of tiny desserts- cheesecake cupcakes, mini parfaits, and delicious petit fours.

Variety of Talks

The talks were okay. There were two speakers that had hour-long talks, and they were just okay. For the remainder of the talks, we split into 3 sessions- an educational, a clinical and an environmental. I attended the environmental. One talk was awesome, two were pretty good, and one was just okay. The awesome talk was about cave microbiology- very interesting. She was an excellent speaker, had great photos, and it was an interesting topic.

The People

Thanks to my labmate, Koni, who is the social-sort, we ended up talking with several of the students at the conference. We met some very nice folks from Ohio State who were also doing podium presentations like us.

What I Learned

In addition to the normal stuff- gaining more experience with presenting, exposure to new topics, etc….here are some other things I learned:

– During a conference, always wear a shirt with a pocket as it is the only conceivable place to have a name tag.

– The winner of any student presentation competition will always have a “complete story”, regardless of how boring their talk is

– Whatever the conference coordinators’ post on the website is only have the story

– Don’t stay at a Days Inn

– Don’t trust a hotel that tells you over the phone that they just fired their general manager

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2010 8:17 pm

    Um wow 3 days?! That’s completely ridiculous!

    I’m glad you ended up having a good time! One of my best friends from college just had his first poster presentation and was really nervous :/

    Do you get a little break after this?

  2. opicana permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:01 pm

    No break, really, always so much work to do! I’ll get a break when I graduate in the fall? maybe? LOL.

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