Victoria Meliopoulos(1) and Matthew Evans(2)

(1)Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Childrens’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN;

(2) Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY

(Updated for 2018)

The American Society for Virology (ASV) is great because it pulls together virologists from all areas of the field. However, this makes the annual meeting big. OK, not as big as some of the goliath meetings (ASM, American Society for Cell Biology, etc.), but still big enough that seeing everything is difficult. With a little planning, and the help of the ASV meeting mobile app, you can make sure you get the most out of attending the ASV meeting.

Before you go:

About a month before the meeting, you will receive an email containing a link to download a PDF version of the meeting program and workshop/poster abstracts. Familiarize yourself with what’s in the PDF and how to access it; some people still prefer it to the mobile app. Although the meeting program PDF will contain scheduling information, at this point it will no longer be 100% accurate. In addition to finishing touches to the program, unforeseen events can lead to unanticipated schedule and room changes. To help with that and many other aspects of planning, download the ASV app, which is available for iPhone, Android, and laptops/desktops. Log in and you’re ready to go.

The app is free and relatively easy to use, but there are a couple of things to know about it. First and foremost, it will suck down the battery on your mobile phone. When the app is not in use, close it out completely. It’s probably a good idea to bring your charging cable with a second battery or wall adaptor. When using the app, it can help to put your phone in airplane mode and only go online for periodic updates or when using the maps. The app contains the meeting program, the room locations, information on meals and social events, and you can even construct your own schedule of the talks/posters you want to see.

Spend some time on the app a week or so before the meeting, planning your schedule. ASV is jam-packed with workshops occurring concurrently, and there’s no way to make it to everything. You may need to jump from workshop to workshop to catch every talk you want to see. Having a plan of attack maximizes the chance you’ll be able to see and to participate in everything you want. You will not have time to plan your schedule at the meeting, we promise! Although ASV tries to maintain a tight schedule to accommodate workshop hopping, be aware that sometimes workshops can run a little ahead or behind schedule, and it may take you some time to walk to another workshop. For ASV 2018, all of the workshop talks occur in one of two buildings on the University of Maryland campus. You should realize that if there are consecutive talks in the two different buildings, you will probably miss part of one or the other. That’s just the way it is!

Honestly though, this is such a big meeting that you don’t have to feel pressure to attend everything. Everyone should go to the morning plenary lectures. These are selected by the ASV President and represent some of the best current virology. Plan your nighttime social activities accordingly. State of the Art lectures are also an excellent chance to see top-notch scientists present exciting research, and thus attendees of all levels should prioritize these. However, for these it would also be fine to choose a short talk at the same time that has direct relevance to your interests. Plenary lectures and State of the Art Lectures will only be listed by title, since they cover the speaker’s work in depth. To get more information on those talks, it’s helpful to check out the speaker’s personal lab webpage or glance over their recent publications. Younger scientists, such as students and postdocs, are more likely to benefit from attending most of the talks and posters that are related to their research interests. This provides not only cutting-edge scientific information, but also a great overview of what other labs in the field are working on and who is conducting the experiments. Don’t forget to grab your lunch and check out TWiV’s live broadcast too. Seats fill up fast! There are also Education (information for teachers) and Career workshops to attend.

Getting around:

ASV typically rotates among university campuses, and each one is unique. For ASV 2018 at the University of Maryland College Park, the Stamp Student Union will be the central location for registration, some workshops, posters and the evening socials. Other workshops will be in the Edward St. John classroom building. The plenary sessions and opening reception will be on the west end of campus in the Clarice Performing Arts Center and the Riggs Alumni Center, respectively. The mobile app will provide you with a basic map of the campus. Look for signs pointing the way to specific workshop rooms and local volunteers to help guide you.

Networking:

One of the most important parts of ASV is networking. This is a terrific chance to meet other virologists at all career levels. Remember, we are all there because we are excited about viruses and science in general. Each person’s particular career level may impact their networking goals and how they pursue them. Portions of ASV are geared specifically towards postdocs and graduate students to facilitate networking. Lunch and dinner discussion tables feature a variety of topics ranging from teaching, grant writing, how to balance work and life, and other career options. These tables are generally smaller groups (10-12 people) with one senior scientist leading the discussion, and very informal. Pre-registration is necessary for them. Other special workshops address virology education, Science & Society, and career development. Professors should keep an eye out for students who give great talks or posters – you might want to invite them to apply for a postdoc position. Everyone should be looking for collaborators.

Ask questions during and after talks and posters! Most people are happy to stick around and talk (what scientist doesn’t want to talk about their work?)! Also, check out the bulletin board for job postings or other contact information. Coffee breaks and the social tent are also great times to meet people. Don’t be shy, especially on the ASV dance floor!