Wednesday 3 August 2016

Holding an internal research workshop

We have just held the 4th Aberystwyth Bioinformatics Workshop. It's a one-day workshop, held with no budget, and intended to be a mostly internal informal research networking event.

We call for 5 min lightning talks, 20 minute longer talks, demos of software, and posters. We end up with a good mixture of both. We especially encourage new PhD students to present, and for all attendees to be friendly and supportive rather than combative in their questions. Registration is done by a very simple Google form (name, email, what kind of talk, title of talk/poster, any other comments). Registration closes one week before the workshop. Tea and coffee is acquired somehow, a room is booked, talks are arranged into a programme, and then away we go.
Aber Bioinformatics Workshop attendees July 28th 2016. Photo by Sandy Spence.

 Each time we've done this we have ended up with a full day of talks. People use it to let others know what they're working on, to practise a talk they're preparing for an external conference, to ask for advice on their work, to describe the state of the compute cluster facilities and to just introduce new people. Bioinformatics at Aberystwyth is mostly done within the biology departments of IBERS, but this meeting allows Computer Science and Maths people to join in, and make interdisciplinary links. Finally we go down to the pub, and continue the discussions there.

It's a very low cost minimal preparation way to bring together a group of otherwise independent researchers. Many bioinformaticians feel that they are either the only one in their group, or else, that they're not really a bioinformatician at all and somehow masquerading as one. I've learned a great deal from each workshop that we've had, and its just great to find that we do have a surprisingly strong local support network in such a specialist field.

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