Onsite Or Online…

keyboard and pen

Going to a conference is an exciting time. Walking into the conference hall with all the anticipation of meeting new people. Some that one only have the opportunity to see at one meeting or another, and learn more things that will reignite the passion that drove researchers to science in the first place. Conferences are also the time to recharge from the burnout that comes from writer’s block, the inability to come up with ideas to push your research forward, and alternative ways to look at things that have been being pondered with no solution or since of direction.

This year, the #AHA17 was out of my reach for various reasons. I could, however, attend via multimedia. This experience was different compared to being onsite, yet equally exhilarating in that it came with its own challenges and excitements. Attending to the technology limitations, such as converting from Windows to Mac, gaining access to meetings that were off limits, as well as managing time away from the laboratory duties while still be present in the lab. Once the sessions began, this means of attendance was more like attending a webinar; supersized. There were various aspects of the online tools that allowed me to be more interactive than with a live meeting, such as the ability to rewind and replay sections that were not clear; not possible with a webinar. I had the capability of looking up information that I did not understand in real time as well as ask questions. During live meetings, there are so many people vying for the speaker’s attention that it is impossible to ask during a live session and in webinars the question screen does not come up until after the webinar is over so remembering the question could be challenging.

Some of the sessions that I attended included Treating gum disease as a means of lowering blood pressure, the role of sleep deprivation in women’s propensity of cardiovascular disease, and how stress impacts obesity. All of which sparked a new way of thinking on the direction in which cardiovascular research is being driven. I was so enthralled with the topics, I could not pry myself away from my computer. I could only image the intense learning environment that was there in Anaheim during this conference and all that educational and mentoring opportunities that came with being onsite. Even though, I enjoyed my experience online, I feel being onsite is my favorite way of attendance. What is your favorite attendance method for conference?

Anberitha Matthews is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis TN. She is living a dream by researching vascular injury as it pertains to oxidative stress, volunteers with the Mississippi State University Alumni Association, serving as Chapter President and does consulting work with regard to scientific editing.