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Meet an Organizer: Barbara Kee, PhD


For organizer Barbara Kee, PhD, less turned out to be more. Kee, who was the chief organizer for the Molecular Mechanisms of Immune Cell Development and Function Conference in August 2019, chose an unusual path to offer more career development experiences for trainees. She reduced the length of long talks (from 25 minutes to 20 minutes, with five minutes for questions) at her SRC to add more short talks (from 10 minutes to 15 minutes, with five minutes for questions).

The result? Sixty-one oral presentations in all. “I think every lab that was there had someone who was speaking, so it gave everyone a feeling of inclusion in the community and the conference,” says Kee, Professor of Pathology at the University of Chicago, who acknowledges that while logistically challenging it proved successful.

Kee’s SRC also offered two career development workshops: one panel, directed at students, centered on getting the job you want in academia, industry, and editing. “In the past, post-docs dominated the sessions and I wanted the students to have a bigger voice,” Kee says. A second panel of junior faculty focused on the challenges and enjoyable aspects of setting up your lab. To avoid the possibility of trainees being too nervous to ask questions, Kee crowdsourced some of her questions in advance, asking trainees on Twitter to suggest questions for panelists.