January 31, 2011 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Are you a member of Society for Neuroscience or ASBMB or FASEB or something similar? I have a doctorate in biochemistry/pharmacology. I've completely left academia and work at a small biotech firm as a scientist. I don't want to permanently narrow my field of interest, so I thought it would be helpful to become a member of one of the science societies and/or attend some conference(s) separately from those that come up for my job. I'm having trouble deciding on what would be the most efficient and enjoyable option.

My love in science focuses on enzyme kinetics and protein purification...these techniques are applicable to a wide variety of subjects, and happily, my job now makes good use of them. But only toward one application. I'm afraid that I will just get more and more knowledgeable about the one application I work on at work, and become less and less broadly knowledgeable about the advances in enzymology and purification, etc. So I know I need to keep on learning.

Of course, I can read journals and such on my own, and I can even attend the rare seminar at a nearby university. But I know that even as a grad student, going to a conference once in a while was a great way to expand and stretch a little. And I'm going to lose my access to journals pretty soon; I should probably subscribe to something (I do get Cell and Nature Methods for free, so that's something).

I've looked into joining ASBMB; that would be doable, but I never really loved attending that meeting. Not sure why. Society for Microbiology also looks interesting, but I have no experience with it. How does FASEB relate? So I guess I'm having trouble understanding the structure of these different societies and then, what I'm really going to get by joining one of them.

And then, I wonder, how does everyone else pick where to join? Did you join because your PI was a member, and that's how you picked? Am I going to be totally out of place as an 'industry' person?
posted by Tandem Affinity to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered ASCB? I find their meeting to be really really good for keeping up to date in the field. It's a massive meeting, but its really well organized and the keynote talks tend to be good. The content is wide-ranging enough that you're likely to find a lot of interesting stuff both on topics you have a background in and on things you wish you knew more about.
posted by juliapangolin at 5:51 PM on January 31, 2011

I can only chime in to say that SFN is extremely wide-ranging. The annual conference is the size of my hometown. Practically, that means that there's almost literally something for everyone. It ranges from clinical neurology, to cognitive (yo), to systems, to cellular neuroscience, to gene expression.

If you want an incredibly wide range of topics and people, loosely tied around the concept of "brain stuff", SFN is it. If you want any sort of specialization in the theme of a conference, try elsewhere.
posted by supercres at 6:45 PM on January 31, 2011

Back when my employer would pay the membership dues, I was a member of FASEB (ASBMB, since I'm a biochemist). Membership in one got you membership in the other, although each society held its own meetings. I've only attended ASBMB meetings, but even though you say you don't like them I think they're good for keeping in touch with bioscience outside your immediate interest.

Some companies will send you to one "personal choice" meeting a year so if you want something broad-based, I think the FASEB meetings would be a good choice. The company will send you to whatever specialized conference is in the company's interest, but for your elective meeting you might as well go to the biggest smorgasbord you can find.

I think a FASEB society is a good all-purpose membership, at least until you decide you want something more specialized.
posted by Quietgal at 7:34 PM on January 31, 2011

The Protein Society might be a good choice, if that's where your primary interest is, intellectually--certainly a good choice if you want to keep on top of enzymology and purification techniques.

Another possibility to consider is the American Chemical Society. They publish a really great weekly newsmagazine, Chemical and Engineering News, which covers just about every angle of chemistry imaginable. This includes advances in protein chemistry, though not methods kinds of things like purification, and the biotech/pharma industry, from a scientific and business angle, which in my experience can be incredibly valuable professional knowledge. (I've got a PhD in biochem too and work in the pharma industry now.) But it also includes tons of other really interesting stuff--materials science, policy and politics and funding, environmental issues, chemical education, career development--so if you really want a broad view of science in context, the ACS is great.
posted by Sublimity at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2011

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