In The Field

Raising the curtain on cell slam

OK, I’ve got to admit. I’m a little excited about being a judge at the ASCB 2007 cell slam tomorrow night. For the uninitiated, a cell slam is kind of like a poetry slam — which are geeky enough on their own — but adds the extra geeky element of being all about biology. The basic remit is “three minutes, one microphone, no AV.” For the record and in interest of full disclosure, I’ve participated something akin to this before. My colleague Erika Check Hayden caught the action last year, and it sounds like it was quite a trip.

John Fleischman, an information officer for the meeting who’s been promoting the event, tells me that last year he walked up to find the room they’d reserved for the event filled spilling out into the hallway. It was 180 person occupancy room. He cleverly thought, I’ll just open the room divider and instantly double the space. When he went to draw the wall back, he found that the other room was already filled. “The fire marshal was not happy,” he said.

Apparently selling beer was a major draw. This year the event may even get a spotlight. The organizers didn’t have a budget for it. But apparently ASCB found some money for it. Events that popular can’t go unlit. I’m excited to see the acts, but even more excited to query co-judge Elias Zerhouni on the revamp NIH peer review is getting. More on that later.


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