By Daniel Mattox, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient
This past May, I had the privilege of attending an online training course in glycoinformatics through the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) with registration covered by the Student Professional Development Support Fund. This training was incredibly beneficial for my thesis research and very well done even though it was held entirely over Zoom. It covered a broad spectrum of computational tools available for analyzing glycans and their role in biology, while also doing a fantastic job of laying a foundation of understanding for participants with minimal experience in either glycobiology or computational analysis. This review might carry some extra weight in light of the fact that the course was held in Switzerland and the lectures and demonstrations ran from 1am to 9am in my local time zone! The included picture was my experience starting the first day, with a full pot of coffee standing by just out of frame.
The course ran for two days, with lectures and discussions in the first half of each day followed by hands-on demonstrations of the featured technologies and tools and a nice “lunch” break in between (at around 6am). This training also allowed me the opportunity to virtually meet with some current and potential collaborators, especially during the hands-on demonstrations where there were only 8-10 participants.
I feel especially lucky to have had this opportunity as in-person trainings and conferences are still being cancelled en masse. But as physical doors are being closed, virtual windows are opening around the globe, allowing for previously improbable networking and training opportunities at a fraction of the cost if travel and lodging were necessary. I would encourage all graduate students at Dartmouth to keep an eye out for opportunities and trainings online and around the world and to take full advantage of the GSC Student Professional Development Support Fund to keep registration fees from being a barrier to access. Just keep in mind, even if the travel is virtual, the “jet lag” can still be very real!