This weekend marked the 16th annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Virology Club. This meeting draws virologists from Colorado and surrounding states and keynote speakers from further away. There is also usually a good contignent of prion researchers from the Prior Research Center at CSU. This year's keynote speaker was Jon Towner from the CDC, who gave a fantastic talk on his research on filovirus reservoirs.
The RMVC is one of my favorite meetings ever. First of all, I am always blown away by the great science. There are lots of opportunities for students and postdocs to give talks and the atmosphere is engaged but friendly. The meeting is also a reasonable size (~60 people or so?). You get a chance to talk with most everyone, including the keynote speakers, which can be tricky at bigger meetings. The meeting schedule is also a lot more relaxed than a typical meeting. A lot of meetings have content scheduled for 12-14 hours a day, which I find to be too much for my brain to absorb. At talk-crammed meetings I usually end up spacing out midday. Here, there is plenty of time for socializing and a break in the middle of Saturday afternoon. This provides a great opportunity to go explore CSU's mountain campus, aka Pingree Park, where the meeting is held. Pingree Park is absolutely beautiful and about a 1.5 hour drive from Fort collins.
Pingree Park (image credit: CSU)
The aspens are usually in peak color (image credit: RMVC)
Some folks bring their families and another unexpected feature of the meeting is really great and free child care (thanks, Joel Rovnak and the organizers!). Each year, Lori, the woman who runs the day care, has the kids do a science-themed art project.
Here's an 'arenavirus' model that my daughter Dahlia made at the 2014 meeting. (It's in my office now and is a useful prop when I'm talking to people about viral glycoproteins :)):
All of the kids' virus models were entered in a competition. The virologists had to guess what kind of viruses these were.
I encourage everyone in my lab to go to this meeting and hope to see you up there too!