It’s just after typhoon number 12 here now in Japan, and it has been approximately 2 weeks after I went back from my academic honeymoon this year. So yes! *drumroll* finally I’ve got the chance to attend the conference I’ve been dreaming of since my first year of doctoral degree.
Gordon Research Conference – Frontiers of Science : Biocatalysis 🙂
So how what makes this conference so special?
It is a science concentration camp (in a good way of course)
The biocatalysis one is held every 2 years in Maine, USA. Different than other conferences that I have ever been to this conference is always located in a remote area. It was 2 hours bus-ride from Boston and practically there is nothing there (except the super pretty scenery!). Kudos to them for their aim to make the participant pretty much focus on the conference. We slept in the same dorm, eat 3 meals a day together, had sport activities during free time together, basically everything together! Indeed it is a science concentration camp, lol!
But let’s take a look! This concentration camp is really beautiful (The University of New England with its beautiful red-brick architecture is just located beside Biddeford Pool, beach, and Atlantic Ocean)
There is also so many delicious food everyday. And…. LOBSTER! LOL. And sometimes rice, I cannot live without rice…..
It is indeed, overwhelming (again, in a good way)
But well, yes, it is a little overwhelming (in a good way of course). Meeting faces you only read in the journal article. Seeing them presenting and really talking to them. (this year I finally met the author that I’ve been fan-girl-ing since 2015, Professor Musa M. Musa).
The sessions were not too long but the cutting-edge science inside it? It is quite overwhelming and sometimes could be heavy. Everyone is presenting the best research/technology/innovation in their field! It is like a biocatalysis all you can eat. Any enzyme you need? any new technique you’ve been curious about? any reaction? anything you want, you will find it in Gordon!
But i cannot deny, it is really tiring (at least for me). For me to be sober and to be able to take good notes on the next day, I have to skip the bar session every night. Nevermind, I do not drink alcohol as well 🙂
It is secretive, somehow exclusive
Researcher got to present their cutting-edge unpublished data here, so yes, no picture and no uploading to social media. The Gordon principle also lies on not trying to copy the idea you have learned or heard from here. Yes secretive.
But you also have the chance to talk directly to those popular professors, and scientists. I got a lot of chance to talk with my idols, not a chance that you will have everyday. Indeed it is somehow exclusive.
By the way, I also attended the Gordon Research Seminar one day prior to the Conference. It is an excellent melting pot for young scientists to discuss their career path. The participants are mainly graduate students, post-doctoral research, and early career researcher. We also had a mentorship session with experts in many fields (also with many backgrounds, i.e : people going from academia then to industry or people going back to academia from industry). It was a very very nice experience for me!
Participants of Gordon Research Seminar, just a day before Gordon Research Conference
Matsuda Research Group in Gordon Research Conference
It made me feel worthy
Sometimes when you are in a cramped space (although you love that space too much) you will somehow limit and compare yourself in the sample size as small as that particular space. I am just meticulous old-fashioned me who like to draw with colored felt pen, put a lot of sticker in the experiment book cover, and personify my enzymes.
I am definitely not gonna achieve as lot as my Doctoral student peers in my lab, well, that is the reality that I have accepted. But in Gordon, somehow I feel more alive and worthy.
I asked questions in forum. Maybe my questions was stupid, but I still raise my hand everyday. Seeing how the professors respond me or how some people got to remember me because of me asking questions everyday definitely boosted my confident.
There was a mentorship session also in the conference. I got a one-to-one session with a female Professor from UK. She is really sweet and charming and of course super witty. Based on our sharing she valued me as a girl that had courage to learn crystallography despite of her originally microbiology background. She said that i should not feel down not having gazillions of publication. One solid publication is OK, one publication that can really explain what you are doing. There is nothing to be ashamed of 🙂 The conversation is too sweet.
So here I am now, home from Gordon.
I know I am pumped up because of this. I am excited because of this. I realize that science is really an interesting thing because of this.
But you know? I have to give a big thumbs up to myself because actually I am always feeling like this right? I love doing research just because I love doing it 🙂 I just need confidence boost to keep on doing this. I just need some confidence for me to think that it is okay to keep going on although slowly and not as good as other people.
Ok, so next will be Doctoral progress report. and next destination will be… Russia! ❤
I will participate in a short term student dispatch to Moscow State University next September as one of the Tokyo Tech’s participant. I am thrilled because this might be my last exchange opportunity as a student. Next October I will already be doctoral third year student. Probably will be my last year of formal education.
It’s been (let me count…) almost 23 years of non-stop studying. Fruitful years with many ups and downs :’) But what can i say? I love science and study so much 🙂
So no matter what your research level are, don’t give up and keep on going!