This is a guest post from Tanya Phung!! Thanks Tanya!!
We had our third annual retreat a couple of weeks ago in Big Bear Lake, California, amazingly organized by two second-year students, Kimberly Insigne and Rebecca Walker.
Following the pizza party on the first night, the first four presentations (each 15 minutes in length) were held. We learned about compound heterozygotes from Rob Brown, fine-scale mapping from Gleb Kichaeve, mutation variation from myself, and methods to analyze RNA-seq data from Zijun.
On the second day, some of us got to take a cooking lesson from Eleazar who also generously made breakfast for all of us. After that, we started the next set of presentations where we learned about missing heritability from Huwenbo Shi, how to apply linear regression analysis to learn about cancer survival from Chengyang Wang, and how to find evolutionarily conserved regions in a Hidden Markov Model framework from Adriana Spearlea. Then, we all walked into downtown Big Bear for lunch. When we got back, we had our last set of presentations from Shan Sabri on Drop-seq, Aliz Rao on predicting the mutational load of a gene, and Kimberly Insigne on library design to study promoters in Ecoli.
Overall, we had talks on a variety of topics and everyone was at a different stage of their research. Presenting at this retreat is such a valuable experience because it is neither like presenting the completed and polished work at a conference nor like presenting at lab meetings where everyone in the lab has an idea of what you are working on. Most of us are in the early stages of our Ph.D. and so presenting our work to an audience that is mostly unfamiliar with our research topics and getting feedback from faculty members has been a very useful exercise.
In addition to simulating talks, we had lots of free time to explore the lake near the cabin, some went hiking, and some played beer pong. Most of the times, we are pretty caught up with classes, research, and meetings and so the retreat has been a good way to get to know other members of our program who we normally do not see.
In the morning of the final day, we discussed Bioinformatics retreat, where we brought up issues that could be changed to improve our experience in the program. This is also one unique aspect of our program because the faculty members are really open to our ideas and suggestions to make the program better. After that, we packed up and started to head back to Los Angeles after a weekend filled with simulating talks, fun, and bonding experience with our colleagues.
Below are some photos:
Bioinformatics students and faculty
Dinner on the second night.