Boston Bacterial Meeting

I spent the last two days attending the Boston Bacterial Meeting (BBM) held at Harvard.  It was a great time to talk to old friends and to get to know some new ones.  The BBM is a small meeting held every June where researchers from Massachusetts and the surrounding states come to share their research in posters and presentations.  This year was the 15th session for the BBM.  The speakers were really good, but the ones who caught my attention were Mathew T. Cabeen talking on Bacterial cell curvature via mechanical control of cell growth’, Hubert Lam on ‘D-amino acids govern cell wall remodeling in bacteria’, Frank Surup on ‘Antifungal agents produced by mutualistic bacteria protect the symbiotic fungi of Abrosia beetle Xyleborinus saxensi’, Genevieve Garris on ‘Antibiotic resistance encoding mobile elements promote their own diversity’, Arne Materna on ‘The evolution of Hutchinson’s Niche: visualization of 2-dimensional niche space in a marine microbial environment’, and Diogo Camacho on ‘Identification and functional characterization of small RNA regulatory networks in E. coli’.

The most memorable part of this meeting was hearing Professor Richard Losick give the Keynote Speech.  It was amazing to hear him tell the story of how of how his laboratory has unraveled the mystery of the life cycle of Bacillus subtillus.  Although I enjoyed hearing about the evolution of his scientific discoveries, what I most enjoyed was the moments he took at the end of the talk to dispense with some advice.  Professor Losick spoke of what he thought were the qualities that he valued in his life.  I am only going to discuss a couple of those that impacted me the most.

Love what you do – get up every morning and think about what it is you do and what it means to you and your life.  There are going to be very difficult days, but that is part of what makes you love what you do.  It is not the day-to-day grind, but the whole journey that matters. Live your life to the fullest.

Be a mentor – take time to help others.  Be an example to others with how you live your life.  Go out and seek those who might not have the opportunity to experience what you have experienced.  Remember that one mentor you had which made a difference in your life and try to be that mentor to someone else.

Teach – nothing is more important than preparing and exciting the next generation of scientists and engineers for the challenges facing our nation and the world.

Never stop asking questions – when you stop asking questions, you stop observing the world and the small details that make it so beautiful and fascinating.  Try to figure out how or why something works the way it does.

Leaving the BBM on Friday evening, I felt proud to be a part of this community and of having made the choice some years ago to go back to school and pursue an education in science.