Conferences prove their value: LMP PhD candidate Punit Saraon describes the CSHR Forum

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Conference participants: Jayesh Salvi, David Shih and Punit Saraon
Conference participants Jayesh Salvi, David Shih and Punit Saraon.

Why are conferences so valuable? In June 2013, PhD candidates Jayesh Salvi, David Shih and Punit Saraon provided an answer to that question when they participated in the high-profile 26th Annual Canadian Student Health Research Forum in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The event featured a research poster day, social events and a symposium with world-leading scientists. Punit Saraon describes why he enjoyed this event that recognizes impressive research trainees from across Canada.  

Day 1:

We were excited to arrive and register at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. After brief opening remarks from members of the University of Winnipeg and CIHR, there was an open poster session to view the posters before the actual competition. This was a great time to network with various graduate students from across Canada and from different research institutions. We spoke with students involved in a broad range of research including basic molecular biology to epidemiology and learned that a lot of our work is interconnected with the aim of answering similar types of questions. Based on the selection criteria, we were told that participants chosen to represent their schools were within the top five percent of the graduate students at their respective research institutes. 

Day 2:

Following breakfast, we presented our research at the CIHR Health Research Poster competition. During this time, we were given ten minutes to present our posters to a panel of judges that consisted of either professors or members of CIHR. Then followed five minutes of questions. It was another great opportunity to network and to present our work. During the middle of the poster competition, Dr. Chris Power of the University of Alberta gave a presentation of his research focusing on the microbiome of the human brain. His presentation was really interesting because it focused on a difficult area of research, yet showed how much progress we have made in understanding the complexity of the human brain.

After the poster competition, everyone went to the Canadian heritage site known as Lower Fort Garry, where we had a delicious dinner and an evening full of socializing and dancing. It was nice to socialize outside of the conference setting and enjoy Winnipeg.

Day 3:

During the last day of the research forum, many high-profile scientists gave presentations on their research interests. The most notable scientist was Dr. Leroy Hood, who is famously known to be the person to automate sequencing. We were impressed by the breadth of different research activities of Dr. Hood’s lab, and how the end goal is to have an impact at the clinical level. The day then ended with the awards ceremony.  

Overall Impressions:

This was a great opportunity to network with elite graduate students across Canada and to enjoy interesting presentations from established, high-profile scientists.