Why we should get rid of poster prizes at conferences

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Picture by ebbandflowphotography via flickr.

It’s that time of year again. Last week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for this years’ Academy Awards. Filmmakers and filmlovers (well, and also critics, fashonistas and gossip columnists) are on the edge of their seats: Who will win the Oscars this year? And as we wait for March 2nd – what better time to discuss awards of a different kind: poster prizes at conferences?

Poster prizes are a regular feature at many conferences. Poster prizes are usually either a moderately large sum of money (e.g. enough to go to a conference), or maybe a year-long subscription to a journal, or some gadget, like an iPod, which are awarded to the person (or people) who have the most interesting and well-presented poster. A small jury, consisting of established senior scientists, selects the winning posters, and the winner gets to be in the limelight of the meeting for about 30 seconds while he/she collects the prize. Often, winners are also given a short slot to talk about the results on the poster. So, really, you might say, poster prizes are great. It’s a just reward for the work that’s been done, and it may even spark some scientific discourse, because conference attendees will discuss the poster that got awarded.

But there’s a catch: Continue reading

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Museum Magic

Poster for the 2014 Young Natural History Scientists' Meeting by xxxx.

Poster for the 2014 Young Natural History Scientists’ Meeting by Sophie Fernandez (MNHN).

Every museum has its moment of magic. In New York and Washington, exhibits came to life thanks to an ancient Egyptian tablet. In London, the mummy of Imhotep was resurrected in the halls of the British Museum. But next month in Paris, you will not need ancient sorcery to get under the spell of science: the Association for Students and Young Researchers (BDEM) at the French Museum of Natural History is organizing its 1st Young Natural History Scientists’ Meeting (12-14th February 2014)!

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Auckland Island pigs: From shipwrecks to diabetes

This is my first post of 2014, and it’s a story about chance and luck in biomedical research. Also, it’s a story about pigs. Not little piggies that went to market or little piggies that made roast beef, but piggies that once saved the life of shipwrecked sailors and today could help the lives of people with type I diabetes. Continue reading