It was some nice to sleep in my own bed again after four days of attending the Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Ottawa (followed by a few days of visiting a childhood friend across the river in Québec). This was actually my first time attending the 'Evolution Conference' (organized by the Society for the Study of Evolution) - I've heard from friends and colleagues that its focus is primarily on non-molecular and non model-organism research, and so I've tended to go to the SMBE1 meetings instead. However, this conference was quite enjoyable and 'useful' in the professional sense, though this may have to do with it being a joint conference of four (?) different societies rather than a single one.
One reason that I wanted to attend the meeting was that Oxford University Press was premiering the book Rapidly Evolving Genes and Genetic Systems (RS Singh, JP Xu, and RJ Kulathinal eds.), of which I contributed a chapter2. It was a nice opportunity to meet some of the other chapter authors as well as some of the editorial staff at OUP. Apparently I'm going to have the right to host a PDF version of the chapter on my website as long as the PDF contains the full book's table of contents, so I'll make it available as soon as I can.
While I saw a lot of great talks that were relevant to my own interests (I downloaded quite a few papers that I'll now have to make my way through), the sheer number of speakers was somewhat overwhelming. During the vast majority of the conference, there were 15 or 16 concurrent sessions going on, with only relatively loose cohesion of topics - so numerous were the talks that there were no published abstracts. You had to skip from session to session based on title alone, and more than once I ended up at a session that wasn't what I'd expected.
All of that being said, one of the major aspects to attending these things is meeting colleagues face-to-face and talking science. On this count I think that things went quite well: I got some great ideas for some side projects to tackle as soon as I get the current manuscript that I'm working on out, as well as some interest in future collaborations and career possibilities. All great stuff for getting me pumped about getting back to the grindstone.
I was pretty busy with the conference and evening meetings so I had very little opportunity to do much touristy stuff. Thankfully the Ottawa Convention Center is within walking distance of Parliament, the seat of the Canadian Federal Government, so I did get to take a few nice photos of its environs. As usual, I've made a Picasa Web Album for anyone who's interested in seeing these pics.
2Apparently, one of the 'perks' of publishing in an OUP book is a lifetime 25% discount on the OUP catalog. I'm still not sure whether that will make it cheaper than just buying off of Amazon.com, but it sounds nice. (I also get a 40% discount on additional copies of the book itself).