You'd Prefer An Argonaute

Vienna small RNA conference + central European vacation

Posted in Conferences by YPAA on June 5, 2010

Outside the IMBA (site of conference)

In a black+tinted Audi A8, briskly driven toward our plush hotel in central Vienna by a sharp looking Austrian, my trip began. These Europeans, they live properly. My 007-like arrival, however, soon gave way to an intense urge to sleep. But before I hit dreamland, with my friend I managed a trek up the tower of the ~14th century Gothic cathedral Stephansdom. Our reward later was a full meal, and cold lagers. Deep sleep was now imminent, and would do me well until next morning: the start of the 5th Microsymposium on small RNAs. It was a damn fine conference.

MicroScientists working at IMBA

After attending two consecutive Keystone RNAi conferences (2008-2009), it was so refreshing to be at a meeting where I didn’t feel so anonymous. Due to the smaller size, and perhaps partly the fact that half my lab wasn’t there (thank god!), there were numerous opportunities to meet other students, postdocs, and PIs. The conference hosts were friendly, and the meals were very good. The meeting ran smoothly. For entertainment, the second night there was a great Brazilian drums-guitar duo that provided pleasant rhythms. And good times were had by all out at the bars. They don’t close at 2am in Europe. You can stay as loooonnggg as you want.

Auditorium at IMBA

The big-shots Narry Kim, Phil Zamore, Dinshaw Patel, and Olivier Voinnet all gave very nice talks. These, along a talk by fast rising Yuki Tomari, were the highlights for me. But the talks by numerous junior group leaders are what really set the tone for the meeting. Young blood ruled here. Nine talks by Ph.D. students further cemented this feeling. (I was fortunate to give one of them.) By contrast, now I recall Keystone speakers as comparatively geriatric.

In terms of topics, animals, plants, yeast, and bacteria were all discussed. Along with a panoply of methods, from deep sequencing to whole animal, all the bases (pun intended!) were covered. Applause for Javier Martinez especially, as well as Julius Brennecke, for constructing such a great program. Overall, in terms of the science, food, schmoozing, and boozing–the 4 cornerstones of a meeting–Vienna hit a home run.

After the conference, my beer-laden hops (pun intended!) up to Prague and then Munich nicely rounded out my central European vacation. Below are some photos from my digital. I actually shoot primarily with a 35mm camera, and have many nice photographs from this trip on film, many of which will end up eventually here.

And now my awards for the cities of Vienna, Prague, and Munich:

  • Best Science: Vienna (no contest!)
  • Best Beer: Prague (for god sakes man, it was cheaper than bottled water, and soooo delicious.)
  • Most Beautiful City: Prague
  • Most Beautiful Women: Vienna
  • Best Museums: Both in Munich, the splendid Brandhorst (modern art), and, vroom-vroom, the BMW museum!

Pictures from Prague, and the BMW Museum in Munich:

Prague

Týn Church and Old Town Square, Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle

BMW R 32 motorcycle (1923-1926)

BMW 502 3,2 Liter Super (1957-1961) wheel, reflecting me and a 3.3 Li (1975-1977)

Sexy engine detail, 1997 BMW S50 B32.

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