While AHA Meetings are highly valued for their annually impressive original science presented to conference goers, these annual meetings also provide much sought-after space for highlighting and amplifying voices within cardiovascular research that historically have not been given center-stage. Over the past few years, the “Women In Science” and the “Early Career Networking” sessions have both proven to be coveted and successful highlights of the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences annual meeting.
This year the Women-In-Science session was held as the first slot on the second day of #BCVS21, and therefore it was aptly titled “Women In Science Breakfast”. The session was organized and moderated by Drs. Pilar Alcaide and Nicole Purcell, and they were joined by a panel composed of Drs. Jane Freedman, Merry Lindsey, Rong Tian and Joseph Hill, all of which are current Editors-in-Chief of various high impact journals in the cardiovascular field. This unique panel shared some timely information, such as:
- Covid-19 has significantly increased the number of submitted manuscripts, therefore increasing the workload and pressure on the overall research publishing apparatus, from desk editors to reviewers and various journal production staff
- For some much appreciated and applauded news, across the board journals have been increasing the number of women editors in scientific journals, many achieving over 50% of associate editors as women.
- Journals are thinking beyond just article publishing, podcasts, social media, and other content amplifying tools are being more widely accepted and used to benefit the research being published in the journals.
The second session I’ll highlight in this blog is the Early Career Networking session, which was titled “BCVS Mix & Mingle”, and it lived up to its name even when it was 100% virtual, with impressive use of videoconferencing plans and gaming involving all attendees for the session. This session, as always, was sponsored by the BCVS Early Career Committee, chaired by Dr. Sean Wu and vice-chaired by Dr. Susmita Sahoo, and involved hosting and moderating duties by several the Early Career members (which included me, as a pseudo-game host for a BINGO! type event). The main goal of these networking events is to foster a sense of connection and community building for the early career scientists, from first-time attendees, to the annual card-carrying members of the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences community. Some of the highlights I experienced in this session include:
- Live-video interaction with colleagues from all corners of the globe! A reminder that while virtual conferences do pose challenges and have limitations, these conferences currently provide the largest potential of bringing together the global science community.
- A little bit of competitive drive definitely livens up a video conference room! Pairing a networking event with some gamification (even if it’s just Bingo) is an excellent way to get the conversation going and connections forming between conference attendees.
- I personally will remember all the fun we managed to have in this one hour of video chat, and I look forward to future meetings where the early career community will continue to expand and accomplish impressive professional advancements to share at #BCVS22
Those were two of the most engaging and enjoyable sessions at #BCVS21, as expected. The value of providing a spotlight for Women In Science, especially for leaders in various roles within the cardiovascular research field (professors, program directors, Editors-in-chief, etc.) is extremely high and essential, in order to continue moving towards true equity and gender-balanced science world. #WIS efforts provide podiums for women to elevate their voices and lift up early career scientists that see themselves aiming for those podiums that are available for them, and of course continue to push the boundaries and expand the space for current and future generations. Similarly, the Early Career networking event centers on the recognition that establishing connections between scientists strengthens the community as a whole, leading to future collaborations and optimized knowledge sharing, which ultimately reflects positively on the scientific research done and benefit the general public as a whole.
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Mo is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, researching the connections between DNA damage, inflammation, and Heart Failure. Additionally, he serves in various committees to advocate for early career professionals and highlight research within the cardiovascular community. Early Career Social Media Liaison and Member of AHA Council for Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. Twitter @MoalkhalafPhD