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Member Spotlight: How to Survive and Thrive at the Annual Meeting


Interviewed by:
Ashley Krull, Ph.D.
Telegraft Contributing Editor
Mayo Clinic Rochester
United States


Evan B. Wilker, BS – Project Manager for CTL

Hillary Bradbury, MLS(ASCP) – Operations Director for CTL

Beth Daneault, MLS(ASCP) – Laboratory Manager for CTL

Natasha Romanoff, MS, MLS (ASCP)CM – Technologist

Trista Mead, MLS(ASCP)CM – Technologist

Jessica Williams, MS – Process Development Technologist

Nicole Doseck, MT(ASCP) – Lead Technologist

For first-time – and even repeat – attendees to an ISCT Annual Meeting, the entire process of preparing for the conference, navigating the meeting, and actually making meaningful connections with other attendees can be daunting. To help alleviate these fears and offer helpful guidance, for this month’s Member Spotlight, the Telegraft Editorial Board’s own Ashley Krull, Ph.D., facilitated a conversation between experienced and novice conference attendees from the Cellular Therapy Laboratory at The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The group was comprised of manufacturing technologists, project development technologists, project managers, and lab leadership members who all shared various perspectives on making the most of one’s time at the Annual Meeting. The aim was to provide a starting point for new attendees to make a plan for how to take advantage of the unique sessions and networking opportunities offered at the meeting. 

Some common themes emerged in the answers to the novices’ questions. The first question posed to the group was how to prepare for the meeting. The resounding reply was to download the ISCT conference app and use it to make your own customized itinerary for the meeting. The prior attendees noted that this strategy helped me never miss a session and even pivot to another session if the current one proved disinteresting. Next, the group discussed how much they enjoyed the casual and interactive nature of the roundtable sessions, telling the newbies to prioritize those sessions that dealt with lab operations and other topics relevant to their positions. They also noted how the poster sessions allow for easy conversation with other attendees and deeper discussions on shared topics of interest. The group then addressed networking at the conference. All the experienced attendees said that ISCT members are extremely welcoming and easy to connect with, particularly if – as a newbie – you ride the coattails of an experienced attendee who can introduce you to people. Several group members noted having made connections that proved valuable long after the conference ended. 

As the conversation wrapped up, group members shared some common pitfalls of first-time attendees and some words of wisdom for making the most of one’s time in a new place. The advice to dress in layers received a round of head nods in agreement, everyone having learned the hard way how cold conference centers can be. Recent attendees also encouraged newbies to not feel pressured to attend every session and to build in breaks when needed to ensure you can weather multiple days of learning, networking, and socializing. Another group member who has attended an ISCT meeting in Vancouver before encouraged everyone to take time to explore the city, saying it is a beautiful place and worth exploring in between conference activities. 

Enjoy the conversation and pick up a new tip or two to make the most of your time in Vancouver with ISCT!