Monday, July 6, 2009

FEMS, fun, and handball

Jennifer  I presented my research at two conferences in June— I'll take the second one first, which was the FEMS conference in Göteborg. FEMS stands for "Federation of European Microbiological Societies," and the group has a conference every other year, much as ASM ("American Society for Microbiology") does. (Some of you may remember that I went to Toronto in 2007—that was for the ASM conference.) The meeting is big, with an announced attendance of 1700 participants. The participating countries were a little differently distributed than they were at ASM—FEMS had far more African and Middle Eastern delegates, but perhaps fewer from the Far East. Since I hail from a Swedish university, I officially counted as a European delegate (I had my picture taken with the US flag as well, see the gallery). The conference ran from Sunday afternoon to Thursday; I dutifully stood by my poster during the Monday afternoon coffee break, then gave a short oral presentation about it on Wednesday. I got some good questions, and caught the interest of some other microbial ecologists, so I will count this conference as a success.

The meeting was held in Svenska Mässan, a large convention center that is part of the hotel complex. Modern convention centers all look rather alike, and there was nothing particularly Swedish about this one, although the views of the nearby early-20th century brick buildings was quite nice. The hotel itself, Gothia Towers, is Scandinavia's largest, a glass-and-steel sort of place that fits in surprisingly well, possibly because the high reflectivity of the glass makes it almost disappear against the sky. It's a modern business hotel that also does a brisk tourist trade, as the large amusement park Liseberg is just across the street—families with young children probably outnumbered conference goers when we were there. In the picture to the right, I am standing on the balcony of the convention center and waving hello to everyone.

The most visible component of hotel guests this week, though, were the handball teams. The block that the hotel is on also includes an indoor sports arena, and an international youth tournament, the Partille Cup, was going on at the same time. Every morning we had breakfast right next to the men's team from Turkey, and the youth national teams of Norway, Finland, Morocco, and Austria were also staying in our hotel. It usually wasn't too hard to tell who was here for the FEMS conference, who was here for the amusement park, and who was here for the handball...

The most fun I had, though, was probably going the soccer game right before the conference started, and I finally managed to write up a game summary and little travel log for my soccer blog.

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