Saturday, March 07, 2015

My microbiome talk at #FOGM15 - the perils (and fun I guess) of redoing one's talk at the last minute

Just got back from the Future of Genomic Medicine 2015 meeting where I gave a talk about microbiomes.  My original plan was to talk about the need for evolutionary and ecological approaches to microbiome studies but I changed my mind a few days before the meeting and decided to switch to talking more about citizen microbiology.  I did this because the meeting has a lot of people who think about digital and wearable technology and public engagement in the audience and it just seemed like a good chance to introduce them to the growing personal/citizen microbiology movement.

To help prep for my talk I emailed some colleagues who work on Citizen Microbiology (including a few in my lab like Jenna Lang and David Coil) and asked them if they had any slides I could pilfer.  And then I started drafting an outline of my talk (I draft all my talks by hand with pen and paper). Here are my handwritten notes










 I realized I would not likely be able to focus enough at home to work on the talk so I kind of waited until heading down to San Diego on Wednesday (talk was on Friday).

I got in pretty late and worked a little on my talk before going to bed.  I also emailed the organizers of the meeting to say I was changing the topic of my talk a bit and asked if they could change the online program which they did.  Eric Topol in response to my saying I wanted to talk about citizen microbiology and personal microbiomes very wisely suggested that I talk about my vision for the future of microbiome research.  I (lamely) had been so focused on Citizen Microbiology that I had not been thinking much about the bigger picture.  But once he suggested this notion my talk really congealed (in my head and on paper at least).  It is interesting to me how one simple suggestion from someone with vision and perspective can transform one's thought process so much ...

Anyway, the next day I headed over to the meeting venue (by the beach - life is rough in San Diego).  I got there in time to hear Francis Collins' talk.  I spent the day sitting outside in the outdoor tent viewing area, pondering my talk and listening to the talks of others. Lots and lots of interesting things presented there.  More about this later I hope.  Anyway - that evening I worked on my talk some more, headed down to the hotel bar for a bit and then worked on my talk some more.  And eventually went to sleep.  Friday I spent much of the AM working on my talk in the outdoor tent (while listening to the talks though this time not watching them on the screen since I was a bit too far away from it).  And voila - only 30 minutes before the PM session was to begin I finished the prep.  I do not like to do this normally but I just felt like my talk would be much better if I re-conceived it and I had to make all new slides pretty much for the whole talk (other than the few I pilfered from colleagues).

I note - I was talking after Marty Blaser and figured I would not have to introduce the human microbiome at all and also that he would give an overview of the risks that come from disturbing the microbiome.  Anyway, I gave my talk, and recorded the slideshow with Camtasia.  Below are my slides, the video slideshow, and a Storify of the Tweets others posted during my talk.
As is frequently the case, afterwards I felt I was too rushed and that it was not the best talk I have ever given. But that being said, I like the general outline and some of the concepts and figured I should share, warts and all. My biggest regret after talks which I have rushed a bit in preparing is that I usually do not do a great job in mentioning who did all the work I refer to. I try to put people's pictures and names on all slides and references but I don't always get this done in time and I worry I screwed this up for a few topics here. Oh well, life goes on ...

Here is a slideshow with Audio (which I recorded via Camtasia)



Here is the Slideshare posting of my slides



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