Tips to Help You Prepare for SfN 2017!

AUTHOR: Steven Mancini

As I approached the 2.6 million-square-foot San Diego Conference Center, my excitement, curiosity and sympathetic nervous system activity increased with every step. Neuroscience 2016 was my first Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. Though I heard several anecdotes and obtained vivid descriptions of conference proceedings from my lab team, I was completely taken aback as I experienced the spectacle for myself.


Neuroscience 2016’s diversity, grandeur and sheer magnitude were memorizing. Last year, the conference brought together more than 30,000 attendees from over 80 countries to collaborate, exchange ideas and discuss emerging science, technology and innovations in the field of neuroscience.  


After controlling my initial bewilderment and gaining an appreciation for the vast breadth of learning opportunities the conference had to offer, I found myself asking, “Where do I start and how do I go about navigating this plethora of events?”  


In an effort to help others address this daunting question, I have put together a list of useful tips and bits of information and advice I have learned along the way. I think you will find the following information useful whether you are a first-time attendee, a more experienced SfN-goer, or even just a person interested in attending the annual neuroscience conference in the future.  

Tip #1: Download The SFN Conference Neurosci17 Mobile App 

This mobile app can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices. It contains everything you need to schedule, plan and organize the lectures, symposia, poster sessions, exhibitor booths and other conference events that you want to attend. To briefly summarize, you can build a customized itinerary and search specific events by inputting keywords into the spotlight search or by using the browsing options listed on the app’s homepage. If you do download the app, I highly recommend watching the 8 minute tutorial that explains how to use the app and taking some time to explore the application’s features.  


How to Use the Annual Meeting Mobile App Link:  

Tip #2: Cultivate Relationships & Network  

There are several SfN-sponsored, theme-specific socials and professional development workshops aimed at connecting peers with one another. If I can offer one piece of advice to my fellow graduate students, it would be to network and connect with experts in the field and ask questions. Though sometimes intimidating, you have a rare opportunity to learn from, and exchange ideas with, some of the best minds the field of neuroscience has to offer. You may also wish to ask for email addresses, opening the door to ongoing communication.  

Tip #3: Attend the Presidential Lectures

The Presidential Lecture Series is curated by the SfN president and is based on his/her individual area of interest.  It will take place each night at 5:15 pm from Nov. 11th -14th. This year’s lecture-set spans a broad range of topics including super-resolution imaging methods, insights from non-human animals into the evolution of language, the gut microbiota and childhood malnutrition, and the use of experimental approaches to study polygenetic psychiatric disorders.  

Tip #4: Visit the Exhibitors  

If you are interested in learning about the latest products vendors have developed, be sure to walk through the exhibit hall. Nearly 800 exhibits have been sold, which means there is an excellent chance that one of the representatives attending the conference will have an answer to your lab’s specific technological and methodological questions. Visiting the exhibitors will also provide you with an opportunity to collect neuroscience swag.  

Tip #5: Bring Comfortable Shoes & Snacks 

Prepare yourself for a substantial amount of walking. Conference sessions and events will be dispersed throughout the 2.3 million-square-foot convention center. Also, food stands are scarce and can be difficult to locate, therefore it is a good idea bring your own lunch, drinks and/or snacks.  

Tip #6: Explore The City - Discover Washington  

Though I have never been to Washington, I took the liberty of researching the schedules of the active Washington sports franchises. If you are a Capitals or Wizards fan, the evenings have much to offer. At least one Washington home game is taking place between Nov. 9th and 13th. If sports do not peak your interest, please refer to the ‘At the Meeting’ tab on the Neuroscience 2017 webpage and browse the additional resources for events in the city.  

Tip #7: Come Out & Support Your MiNDS Friends! 

The MiNDS program will be well represented at Neuroscience 2017. Below is a list of several MiNDS faculty and students who are presenting their research at the conference. Additional information can be found by searching for the respective author in the ‘Author Index’ search option of the NeuroSci 2017 App. 

Justin Balsor 

Session Type: Poster 
Presentation Title: Binocular vision restores glutamatergic and GABAergic proteins for regulating experience-dependent plasticity mechanisms to normal level 
Session Date and Time: Tuesday, November 14th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 3-4pm) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. EE23   

Ashley Bernardo  
Session Type: Nanosymposium 
Presentation Title: Development of potential new drugs targeting brain cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease 
Session Date and Time: Wednesday, November 15th - 9:00-9:15am 
Location/Room: 147B   

Aya Dudin 
Session Type: Minisymposium 
Presentation Title: Neural Response to infant pictures: Comparing depressed and not depressed mothers and non-mothers 
Session Date and Time: Monday, November 13th - 9:35 - 9:55 AM 
Location/Room: Ballroom B   

C. Francella, J. Ellegood, J. K. Y. Lai, K. C. Rilett, B. Darwin J. P. Lerch, J. A. Foster 
Session Type: Poster 
Presentation Title: An integrated analysis of microbiota composition on brain structure and social behaviour in mice 
Session Date and Time: Sunday, November 12th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 3-4pm) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. HH26   

J. A. Foster, J. Lai, K. Rilett, A. Bharwani, J. Ellegood, J. Lerch 
Presentation Title: Host genetics influence on microbiota composition and behaviour 
Session Date and Time: Sunday, November 12th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 3-4pm) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. HH27   

R. G. Horne, J. St. Pierre, S. Odeh, J. A. Foster
Session Type: Poster
Presentation Title: Host genetic effect on intestinal barrier function and microbiome 
Session Date and Time: Sunday, November 12th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 2-3pm) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. HH25   

M. Kapadia, F. Mian, D. Ma, E. Rosa, B. Michalski, P. Forsythe, B. Sakic, M. Fahnestock  
Session Type: Poster
Presentation Title: Systemic autoimmunity: A sex-specific factor in Alzheimer's-like disease 
Session Date and Time: Saturday, November 11th - 8am-12pm (Presenter at Poster 8-9am) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. J12   

Steven Mancini 
Session Type: Nanosymposium 
Presentation Title: Molecular changes induced by environmental enrichment in adult rat somatosensory cortex 
Session Date and Time: Sunday, November 12th - 8:00-8:15am 
Location/Room: 144A   

Melissa McCradden  
Session Type: Poster 
Presentation Title: Concussion and a single season of contact sport participation affect performance on a test of high  memory interference 
Session Date and Time: Monday, November 13th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 2-3pm)   
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. CC32     

Kathryn Reynolds 
Session Type: Poster 
Presentation Title: Alterations in astrocyte thrombospondin-1 expression in Fragile X syndrome 
Session Date and Time: Sunday, November 12th - 8am-12pm (Presenter at Poster 8-9am) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. C36   

Caitlin Siu  
Session Type: Poster 
Presentation Title: Development of synaptic mechanisms in human extra-striate cortex 
Session Date and Time: Tuesday, November 14th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 3-4pm) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. FF10   

S. L. Thompson, J. Ellegood, K.-A. Mcvey Neufeld, J. A. Foster, J. P. Lerch 
Session Type: Poster 
Presentation Title: Brain volume changes in germ free mice 
Session Date and Time: Sunday, November 12th - 1-5pm (Presenter at Poster 8-9am) 
Location/Room: Halls A-C, Board no. HH19