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You might want to consider taking “The T” if….

…taxi costs are making your head spin.  If you didn’t know, “The T” is Greater Boston’s subway system.  I’m staying with a friend on the other side of the city in Jamaica Plains (a cute little neighborhood that may be worth a visit if you’re the artsy type).  By the end of my ride my grand total was a whopping $29.  I’m sorry but I won’t be doing that again.  So this morning I conquered “The T.”  I must say its not the prettiest subway system, but it’s f-a-s-t and pretty cheap.  A one day pass is only a couple of bucks and a seven day pass is only 18 bucks.  The closest stop is South Station (which also offers some alternative lunch options like Cosi if you’re interested), and is a 10 minute walk from the convention center.  So switch it up! Get you some fresh air, and hop on “The T.”

From Aspirnauts to Astronauts?

At the ASBMB Opening Reception, posters were showcasing successful science outreach projects. One in particular caught my eye. It was surrounded by several kids who looked like they were from middle school.

These young middle schoolers are from a rural part of Maine engaging scientists with research that they performed!

This was made possible by the Aspirnaut Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The program links rural communities with the vast scientific resources of Vanderbilt University. The goal is to stimulate young students by helping to increase their knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). “Every job requires some form of STEM education,” says Billy Hudson, co-founder of the Asprinaut Initiative. The Aspirnaut Program has successfully launched participating students through high school with many continuing to take STEM-related courses or majors in college. By bringing cutting-edge research and equipment to students who might otherwise have never had such an opportunity, the Aspirnaut program is successfully increasing the number of future generations of Americans in the research workforce.

To date, the Aspirnaut program has set-up successful collaborations in 7 states with over 15 participating elementary, middle and high schools.

So what’s next?



If you’re a graduate student, chances are you’ve probably asked yourself at some point: 1) What is the meaning of life? 2) What am I going to do with mine?  If so, hopefully you had a chance to check out the Graduate Student Colloquium entitled “Introducing the Individual Development Plan: A Key to Success”.  The session was all about career development.  A series of speakers talked to a room full (standing room only to be precise) of graduate students about post-graduate PhD career paths.  After the presentations, students had an opportunity to have breakout sessions with the speakers.  And so the brain picking began…. When asked about what to do when exploring career paths, Dr. Stephani Sutherland, a freelance science writer stressed the importance of “challenging yourself” and emphasized the importance of having passion and a mentor that fosters that passion.  Looking around the room, everyone seemed to be on the edge of their seats.  The speakers were both engaging and informative.  Kudos to the respective societies for pushing the importance of career development.

Sensory overload…

As I waited for my flight to Logan Airport at the departure gate, I looked around and couldn’t help but notice the calmness in the air.  Here we were waiting to board a flight to a city that just experienced an unspeakable sequence of events, and not a soul talked about it (at least not in my earshot).  No conversations about the breaking news, no suspicious side-eye glances, no indications of anxiety…just calm.  Like a calm after a storm almost.

The unexpected sense of “normalcy” continued as we boarded the plane.  In fact we had quite a lively flight attendant, who interspersed her announcements with generous offerings of jokes.  My favorite was her sternly informing the men on the plane to tuck their man purses or “murses” as she affectionately called them, under the seat in front of them.

I’m no frequent flyer, and quite honestly I don’t look forward to the turbulence that flying often brings, and I often search for something to do to quiet my nerves.  I refused to pay the $8 wi-fi fee for a 40 minute flight, so posting a blog entry would have to wait until later.  So what did I do to calm my fears?  I wrote… For some reason this past week, and the upcoming EB conference have me feeling creative…and reflective…and anxious (afterall scientific conferences are sensory overload).  And so I wrote…

lately I’ve been feeling like I have wings

being carried by the wind

coasting me closer to my dreams

drifting on the memories of struggle

catalyzed by hope

driven by dreams

I know my purpose

and so I live purposefully

humbled by life’s mysteries

the intricacies

and idiosyncracies

I won’t even attempt to explain…

they are often far beyond reason

and perhaps the season for understanding hasn’t come yet

and overstanding can take its place in the meantime

see it’s my soul’s springtime

and I must realize that I am a vessel

filled with possibility and the ability to scratch the surface of the unknown

or better yet the unexplored

and so like many I am implored

to make the energy of creativity and ideas kinetic

this time it’s with words

and my hope…is that I do it justice.

Welcome to Boston


In the wake of the recent tragic events in Boston, I’d like to first start by sending my condolences and well wishes to any and everyone affected.  Experiemental Biology communication liasons did a wonderful job at keeping attendees informed via twitter (@ASBMB) , the offical conference website, emails and “The Interactome” blog.  I just touched down in Boston not too long ago, and am looking forward to what EB has in store.  Please stay tuned as I give you my recapitulations, thoughts and highlights of the event happenings.  Thanks to everyone for their patience and dissemination of information, and welcome to Boston!

The EB2013 meeting will go on as planned

The Experimental Biology conference has NOT been canceled. We realize that travel restrictions in and around Boston have affected many participants, and we ask that you remain patient. EB and ASBMB officials are closely monitoring the fluid events in the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. If any decision is made to alter event plans, we will release that information just as soon as we possibly can. Until that time, assume that all EB2013 events are proceeding as scheduled. Stay tuned to the Interactome, the ASBMB homepage, and the EB2013 homepage for updates, or follow @ASBMB and @bwcorb on Twitter.

As of 6:45 p.m. Eastern:

  • The T has been reopened, and authorities have lifted the request that those in the area stay indoors. Please remain vigilant.

As of 3:10 p.m. Eastern:

  • For ASBMB Graduate, Postdoctoral and Graduate Minority Travel Awardees:
    • We understand your concerns about the situation in Boston. ASBMB staff are present in the Boston Convention Center and will host this evening’s Travel Award lecture and poster session. If you are en-route to the Center, the Center will welcome you and you can proceed to room 253C to check in for the event beginning at 4:00 pm. Saturday’s Professional Development Program is scheduled to proceed beginning at 9:00 AM.
    • Logan airport is open and taxi and automobile travel is allowed throughout the area. The public transport system, T, and buses remain closed for the remainder of Friday, April 19.
    • Unavoidable travel interruptions will not impact your eligibility to receive your travel award reimbursement. We understand many of you are not able to reach Boston today due to related travel interruptions. If you are not able to join us this evening, we ask that you join us tomorrow, Saturday morning, where you will sign in at the event.  All your related questions will be answered by our onsite staff.Please travel safely.

As of 2:20 p.m. Eastern: 

  • Satellite registration will be available at the Westin and Rennaisance hotels for #EB2013 attendees. Thanks for your patience as the EB organizers and hotel staffers work to resolve issues and get these alternative-registration sites up and running.

As of 12 p.m. Eastern:

  • The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is OPEN to exhibitors! As of now, the meeting is scheduled to go on as planned.
  • Per the Boston and Brookline PDs, taxi service in Boston has been restored. Public transit is still suspended. Also, the request to shelter in place has NOT been lifted.
  • Amtrak service into and out of Boston is currently suspended. We will monitor this situation closely.
  • UPDATE: If you show up to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center or hotels in the area, you will be welcomed in. However, due to the limitation on travel around the city, once you arrive at your destination, it is strongly suggested that you stay there.

As of 11 a.m. Eastern:

  • In the last 10 minutes, EB2013 officials have said, “As of now the EB meeting is scheduled to go on as scheduled. Please continue with your plans to attend.”
  • Much remains the same in Boston. Officials are still asking that everyone shelter in place. If at the airport, travel to your hotel and stay there. Travel around the rest of the city is restricted.
  • The car wanted by the Boston PD has been found.

As of 10:30 Eastern:

  • Taxi service to and from the airport has been restored, and they are are running everywhere except to Watertown. Expect long lines at the airport when trying to catch a cab.
  • From Boston PD: “#WANTED: Police seeking MA Plate: 316-ES9, ’99 Honda CRV, Color – Gray. Possible suspect car. Do not approach.” Call 911 immediately if you see this car.
  • If you are in Boston, Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Brookline, Belmont, Cambridge, Allston-Brighton, officials are still asking that you shelter in place.
  • The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center remains closed due to an abundance of caution. There is no known threat to the Center.

As of 10:00am Eastern:

  • Taxi service has been restored, at least in part, to Boston. No word yet on other public transit options. If you arrive in Boston today, please check with local officials before venturing out to make sure your travel is safe.
  • If you are in Boston, Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Brookline, Belmont, Cambridge, Allston-Brighton, officials are still asking that you shelter in place.
  • The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center remains closed due to an abundance of caution. There is no known threat to the Center.

As of 9:30am Eastern:

  • If you are an annual meeting attendee and you are in Boston, please heed the officials’ advice and shelter in place.
  • The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is currently closed due to an abundance of caution. There is no known threat to the Center.
  • If you are traveling to Boston today, please be aware that public transit and taxi service are currently shutdown, per the Boston Police Department. Heed officials’ advice and shelter where directed.

Again, this situation remains fluid and we will update as soon as possible. As of now, the EB2013 is scheduled to go on as planned.

EB2013 Highlights

I can hardly believe EB2013 is two days away! I am pleasantly overwhelmed by all the great science that will be presented at the meeting. Check out this year’s  ASBMB Award Winners. You definitely don’t want to miss out on hearing their lectures.

Don’t miss the programs sponsored by the ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Council! Sessions and workshops include How Scientists Can Save the World, Public Outreach and Science Communication, and From the Lab to the Kitchen Table – Communicating Science to a Lay Audience. The role of scientists as advocates for science is crucial, particularly, during these difficult financial times caused by the sequester. Learn how YOU can make medical research a national priority through public outreach and effective communication!

*stepping down from soapbox*

There is no better place to network than at science conferences! What is a Science Café and how can I start my own? Learn the answers at the  ASBMB Science Café: The New Social Networking Event on Monday, April 22, 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, Sauciety Restaurant and Science Cafés 101: An Interactive Guide to Organizing Your Own Science Cafe on Tuesday, April 23, 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., Room 255 at the Boston Convention Center. Also, the Y.E.S. Mixer (Young Experimental Scientists) will be on Monday, April 22, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel Galleria. **Beverage tickets will be provided at the door while they last, so don’t be too fashionably late!

Continue to follow us here at The Interactome for more information on EB2013. Plus, don’t forget to tweet using #EB2013. Maybe we can trend globally this weekend!


2013 “What is a Germ?” Challenge

This year, ASBMB invited scientists from around the world to submit their answer to the question, “What is a germ?” Participants of all ages submitted entries in all sizes and formats. Check them out below!

The finalists will present their entries at the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival’s Curiosity Challenge on Sunday April 21. Be sure to follow ASBMB on Twitter (@ASBMB) to find out the winner. And look for a full event recap in the June issue of ASBMB Today!

 Abdullah J. Aldabal

Braylin Lynch


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Caleb Quinn


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Crystal Tobin Magle


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Douglas C Miller


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Eitan Weizman


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Gayatri Yatherajam


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Grace Bayiates


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Jabob Hatch


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Jamie Bergen


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Jesse Gechtman


Johnny Scaramuzzo


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Karen Holcomb


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Maria Jones

Meghan Soucie


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Mia Maria Akiki


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Molly Greenwood

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Nate Chaplin


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Owen Rotchford


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Peyton Teehan


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Priscilla Pouliot


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Ramon Gomez-Moreno

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Roshni Chandawarkar

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Ryan Stone


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Simran Chandawarkar

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Sophia Cucinotta


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Sophia S


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Soraya Gonzalez


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Suffolk University ASBMB UAN Chapter

Tessa Jones


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Thomas Quinn


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Will Curran


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Spring is here, and EB is right around the corner!


If you’ve read the introduction to my column, Nature’s Pathways, you know that I love science and food.  In each article, I highlight some aspect of the biological activity of a particular herb (defined as a plant or plant part used for its scent, flavor or therapeutic properties) and how it relates to human health and disease.

In “The Interactome,” I hope to bring some of the information discussed in the column to life.  After all it IS called The INTERACTome.  😉  As such, this series of blogs will be an effort to make things a bit more interactive.  The first order of business: Experimental Biology 2013.  It’s right around the corner, so look out for posts highlighting some of the interesting posters, talks, etc. that I come across during the meeting.

Now let me direct your attention to the image included in the post.   It’s a picture of a some of the veggies and herbs that I’m getting ready to plant for the spring.   I don’t just write about herbs — I grow them!  As you can see, they seem to be sprouting quite nicely.  I’ve got lettuce, calendula and sage, just to name a few.  With a little love, water and luck, they should be ready to go soon.

Yeah!!! Spring is here, and EB is on the way!

Boston, Seminars, Experimental Biology 2013 — Oh, My!

The 2013 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting is right around the corner. Hopefully everyone is preparing for the great seminars (especially if you’re giving one!), incredible vendor swag and hopefully some free food!

My name is Mark Stewart, and I am honored to serve as one of the official bloggers representing ASBMB at EB2013. Currently, I am a fourth-year graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I study in the laboratory of Dr. Ralph Sanderson. I will be posting throughout the meeting in Boston. My posts will range from serious thoughts on research as well as the other serious aspects of the meeting like where the best vendor swag and food is located!

I hope everyone has made their final arrangements for this meeting, because it is less than a week away. I hope to see everyone soon!

Follow me here and through my Twitter feed @MD_Stewart


Deadline for “What is a Germ?” Challenge extended

It’s not too late to submit your entry to the “What is a Germ?” Challenge being put on by ASBMB in conjunction with the Cambridge Science Festival. Submit your best explanation for answering the question “What is a germ?” — and frame your response so that an elementary school student can understand it. Why? Because they are the ones who will be judging you! Schools from the greater Boston area will be grading the entries and letting our participants know which ones they like best. Finalists will be invited to present their submissions before a live audience during the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival’s Curiosity Challenge on Sunday April 21!  Email your submission to by March 25.