Action Potential

THE Official SfN 2011 Party Review

This is a guest post in our #NPGsfn11 blog series and posted on behalf of Dr. Becca.


One of the most fun things about being a new professor is that I now call everyone I know in any kind of sciencey capacity my “colleague,” instead of “friend” or “quasi-mentor” or “ex-labmate” or “co-faculty person” or whatever. It feels insanely grown-up. So a colleague hosted a little fête at the Washington Plaza on Saturday and it was heaps of fun. Nice hotel bar! The open, loungey layout was perfect for modular mingling in style and that’s exactly what I did, dragging club chairs (and my whiskey) around to schmooze with various groups.

Highlight: Chatting with @Neuropolarbear and that magical, confusing moment when you realize your internet and IRL worlds are, for a split second, one single world.


My grad school entering class was twice the size of any before or after it and we like to think we really set the bar for social behavior at our Classy Institution. I probably shouldn’t say how low or high that bar is, but rest assured, it’s been set. On Sunday eve, all past and present members of our department/program descended upon a poor, unwitting hotel bar, where we hi-fived, sang our alma mater’s fight song, and reminisced about days gone by. OK, that last part isn’t completely true—I have no idea what our fight song is.

Highlight: Well it wasn’t my $15 no-bitters Manhattan, I’ll tell you that much.

When the grad school scene started to wind down, I made my way up to DuPont Circle to peek in on @iammattyoung1 and the UPenn crowd at Bier Baron. As promised, there were indeed drink specials, music, LOTS of nerds and I enjoyed myself immensely. Got some great new faculty advice from one of Penn’s more senior PIs, after which I dispensed some wisdom of my own upon a 1st year grad student. Pay it forward, I always say (I don’t actually say this.)

Highlight: Without question, watching Matt bust out the dance moves when “Hey Ya” came on the sound system.


As I know you know, Monday was my BANTER party, and it was a success unlike any other! Bloggers! Twitter persons! Wristbands! SIX HUNDRED DOLLAR BAR TAB! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d be hosting a sponsored event (thank you @biodata!) that would bring together so many excellent people, who all genuinely seemed to be having a great time. If I met you and then you said hi to me at the conference the next day and I stared at you blankly, please don’t take it personally—I did that to a lot of people.

Highlight: The whole night truly was one big Highlight, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say it had to be Dr Zen’s kilt.


Thanks to a hilarious little birdie we like to call @bam294, I got the skinny on a little party we like to call The SfN Presidential Reception. NBD. @SciTriGrrl and I stepped out of one of Washington’s modern and luxurious taxi cabs and into an enormous room containing bottom-lit pillars, an ice cream bar, neuroscientists and a flamenco band—four things I can honestly say I never imagined would be in the same place at the same time. ‘Tis truly a wondrous time we live in, is it not?

Highlight: The view from the mezzanine—just spectacular.

When the Flamenco band had finished a particularly memorable rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’” and the lights came up on Susan Amara’s closest 400 friends and colleagues, NatC and I stumbled a few blocks to Zaytinya for a nightcap with the Neurotree gang. If you’re not familiar with Neurotree, you must become so immediately—it’s like a giant game of Kevin Bacon but with only neuroscientists! You can see your neuro lineage, find your neuro siblings, and importantly, see which super famous neuroscientists you descend from. I was thrilled to find that Hebb is something like my great great great great grandfather. Yes, that Hebb!

Highlight: The Neurotree folks were just lovely, and we had some good honest chats about starting new labs, the TT search and impostor syndrome (I’m telling you first hand that getting a job doesn’t make it go away—if anything, it may gain in strength).

And with that, a pleasant conclusion to the week’s revelries. So pleased to meet so many fantastic people! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sleep for about a month.

Dr Becca is a new professor who blogs at Fumbling Towards Tenure (Track). Feel free to judge her on her clothes and parties–it’s only fair.


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