“Excuse me, waiter, I think there's been a mistake – I actually ordered a large one.”
A warm, sunny day in late summer on the shores of the Mediterranean. With this kind of setting, it didn't take a lot of armtwisting to convince EMBL alumni to switch off their computers, hang up their lab coats and head over to the beach for the second gathering of the EMBL Alumni Association's Iberian local chapter. The event, attended by more than 25 alumni currently living on the Iberian peninsula, took place on 29 September at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
After a short welcome, EMBL alumni took to the podium to discuss their latest research. Speakers included Alfonso Valencia, Maria Mar Vivanco, local chapter head Juan Valcárcel, Domingo Barettino, Jordi Bernués and Alberto Muñoz. Topics ranged from protein interaction networks to vitamin D and colon cancer, and gave participants not only a great opportunity to hear the latest in Spanish science, but also to explore possibilities for collaboration. After the morning session, shop talk carried on over into lunch as the participants regrouped at a seaside restaurant, enjoying a magnificent seafood paella and other Iberian delicacies.
Between courses, alumni took stock of the progress that they have made in setting up their local chapter. Since their last meeting, the chapter website has been improved and now includes a blog, set up by Carlos Luque, to facilitate communication among members. Continuing areas of activity include completing alumni profiles in the online searchable database, which will hopefully help members identify people with particular expertises and career paths. Future projects include organising a laboratory management course and promoting visits of students and postdocs to alumni labs.
Thanks are due to reunion organisers Ramon Serrano and Angel Nebreda who delivered a top-notch programme and a truly pleasant day with friends old and new. Next year's event is scheduled to take place in September or October in Bilbao, and will be hosted by Maria Mar Vivanco at the CICbioGUNE. Current EMBL staff take note: the Iberian alumni want to strengthen ties with current EMBL staff and are planning on inviting some of you to their next reunion. If you're interested, get in touch with Maria.