I have to focus on work right now and put all that aside. It's a big week for me, a big week for my lab and all that we work towards on a daily basis. We're heading to a small scientific conference that is jam-packed with the best work being done in our field right now. Small, as in 500 people or so, but big on impact. This meeting is only held every 4 years and as a result, there is a lot of time and energy spent making it as good as it can be. I attended this meeting 4 years ago and 8 years ago and both times it's been a great experience. I remember so well attending the meeting 8 years ago - I was still a postdoc at Wash U, with no idea if I would ever get a faculty position. I think I had just found the posting for my current position and was wondering if I could really make that leap. I remember being in awe of many of the speakers and scientists at this meeting, feeling so very far from where they stood in their successful careers.
And now, 8 years later - I am one of them. I am on the organizing committee for this meeting. I am moderating two of the 12 scientific sessions and giving a 30 minute talk on my research. Two members of my lab are presenting posters. We will be very visible at this small meeting and I hope our impression is a good one. We toll away in obscurity day after day and now we get a chance to tell everyone what we've been up to. I hope our best is good enough. I always wish we had been more productive. I want to put an asterisk next to my name with the footnote **Has two children under 4 and gets very little sleep, please be kind!** But there is no such thing and I have to stand proud of what we've done and hope for the best.
And I am proud of this group. This is the second coming of my lab - my first group of students and technicians has moved on and I have new students, new techs that have never traveled together for a meeting like this. This will be a chance for us to bond and create new memories. I wasn't sure I could ever recreate the chemistry of my first core group - the ones that I worked with closely to get that first big grant, the ones that learned with me as I figured out this faculty gig. But this group is special, too. I feel good about the new direction we're taking in our research and the positive energy we have in the lab. Sometimes I feel like I don't do enough to foster that energy now that I have a family of my own. But I think we're doing all right. This meeting helps me take stock and recognize our strengths. I'm a proud mama in many ways...
I wonder where I/we will be in another 4 years? Crazy for me to think about. I really can't imagine it at this point, and maybe that's a good thing. Surprise me.