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New England Regional Node Meeting – January 4-5, 2024

Eight faculty members, one staff member/TA, and seven students of the New England Regional Node gathered together at Siena College in Loudonville, NY on January 4-5, 2024 for an exciting two-day conference.
Northeast Regional Node Meeting participants group photo
Eight faculty members, one staff member/TA, and seven students of the New England Regional Node gathered together at Siena College in Loudonville, NY on January 4-5, 2024 for an exciting two-day conference. Dr. Brittany Miller and Dr. Tom Giarla gave upper level course implementation talks entitled, “Using GEP Annotation Projects as a Launching Point for More Advanced Bioinformatics” and “Piloting the ZAD-ZNF Gene Family Evolution Project,” respectively. Dr. Rachel Sterne-Marr led a training session, “Wasp Venom Gene Annotation” and GEP TA and staff member, Logan Cohen, engaged us in a discussion, “Why students make mistakes: the underlying concepts behind common errors.” Five students from the Pathways Project presented in a lively poster session. 
Brittany Miller posing before beginning her talk entitled Using GEP annotation projects as a launching point in an advanced bioinformatics course
Rachel Sterne-Marr providing talk on PPT slide entitled Challenges: Incomplete Transcript Examples
  • Kate Putnam (Siena College, Giarla lab), presented “Akt and srl Genes.”
  • Forrest Veilleux (Franklin Pierce University, Page lab) presented “Glycogen Synthase in D. bipectinata: How Fruit Flies Store Their Sugar.” 
  • Caleb Casey (Siena College, Tom Giarla’s Genomics and Bioinformatics course) enlightened us on “Discovery of a Putative Paralog to wat in Drosophila willistoni.”
  • Chris Shulman (Siena College, Biochemistry course) gave a progress report on the wet lab wasp CURE (a collaboration with Lindsey Long, Marisol Santisteban and Nate Mortimer) in a poster entitled “Role of Glycolytic Enzymes in Parasitoid Wasp Infection of Drosophila: Heterologous Expression of Three Wasp Venom Pyruvate Kinases.” 
  • Tommy Anderson (Siena College, Sterne-Marr lab in collaboration with Nate Mortimer, Oregon State University) shared novel images from the SUNY Albany timsTOF MALDI instrument in a poster entitled, “Using Classical Histology and Mass Spectrometry Imaging to Study Parasitoid Wasp Infection of Drosophila Larvae.”
Members of the New England Node have a long-standing interest in learning R for their courses and research projects. The two final sessions, “An Introduction to R: Data Import, Simple Statistics, and Plotting” presented by Tom Giarla, and “Differential Gene Expression in R: Walkthrough of Primary Component Analysis and Volcano Plots” presented by Shallee Page, accomplished an important first step in getting the Node members comfortable working in the R environment and being exposed to very common uses of R for life scientists.
Shallee Page providing a talk on using R

Special thanks to all our presenters and other participants for making this meeting highly successful! Thanks to Melinda Yang and Jenni Kennel, the Regional Node Director and Co-Director, for perfectly scheduling the planning benchmarks. Thanks to Sarah Potts for taking care of financial logistics allowing us to focus on the meeting itself. Thanks to student participant Isaiah Korostil (Siena College) for facilitating during the R workshops. Rachel Sterne-Marr, Tom Giarla, Daron Barnard, and Evan Merkhofer all contributed to making this meeting actually happen.

What worked well for your event that might help others plan similar events?

The timeframe that was set up by Melinda Yang, the Regional Node Director, was perfect for prodding us to complete the various steps in a timely manner. Working with Sarah Potts to take care of financial logistics was such a relief. We are lucky in having two GEP members at our institution so the organizer had help in making decisions and on-the-spot problem solving (no lighting in the room we were having dinner!).

What would your Node do differently based on your experiences?

Have a detailed checklist for the week before the event to include name tags, poster boards, clips, maps, uploading presentations, and confirming times with caterers.

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