GRSC Retreat 2016, Sant Feliu de Guíxols
Organized by Marta Ingles, Catalina Romero, Guillermo Vicent and Thomas Graf
Summary of the retreat
We arrived in Sant Feliu on a wonderful sunny morning, with the Eden Rock Hotel overlooking a small rocky beach with the sound of crushing waves below and the sight of screeching seagulls above.
This year we tried a completely different format of our retreat, with the main intention of facilitating interactions between the 90 or so participants. Thursday morning was devoted to showcase the newcomers that joined the program since our last retreat (in the spring of 2015), and who had not yet given a presentation at our weekly data club. Each student, postdoc and technician introduced herself with a 3-slide presentation, briefly explaining previous work and the topic of their new project. At lunch (buffet style, very tasty) people were assigned to randomly chosen tables, ensuring that they did not just flock around the colleagues they see every day. Right after lunch participants could either join a crowd that wanted to walk a path over the rocks overlooking the beach, or to play dodgeball at the ample beach of the village. ‘Dodgeball is a game in which players on two teams try to throw balls at each other while avoiding being hit themselves. In North America, the game is typically played among children 6–12 in elementary school’ (Wikipedia). Well, we certainly liked being 10 year olds again, as you might see from the uploaded pictures!
In the afternoon we first listened to talks from the PIs intended to differ from the usual ‘This is our science’ routine. Lots of interest and participation. It was followed by two technical talks on CRISPR and STORM microscopy, very useful and interesting for many of us.
After dinner we played another 10 year-olds-game, this time in our conference room: Teams of about ten, on a command given by our game master (Guille) raced to fill out a form with cities, countries, famous artists, scientists, scientific methods, research institutes, diseases etc., starting with the same letter (e.g., Reno, Ruanda, Renoir etc.) and differing at each round. Once our arbiter (Luciano) accepted the selections presented, a winning team and two runner-ups were determined. Very interesting to hear and see so many scientists or want-to-become-scientists shouting, pushing, bargaining, cheating etc. The night was rounded up by walking to the local disco, as in previous years, or simply falling exhausted in bed.
Friday morning continued with another technical talk on ‘Single cell technologies’ followed by presentations of the remaining 5 PIs. Then we took a look into the future, watching a provocative TED video on machine learning, the human genome and personalized medicine, followed by a presentation on approaches and applications. Just before lunch the retreat ended with a general discussion of the Programme about the predoc’s questionnaire, which strongly suggested that we should increase PI and student interactions. The trip back in the buses was pleasantly quiet, only interrupted by the occasional snoring of a late disco-goer.
You can download the program here