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Meet an Organizer: Henry M. Colecraft, PhD

For Henry M. Colecraft, PhD, who organized the Ion Channel Regulation Science Research Conference (SRC) in July 2019, scientific meetings often close the loop on laboratory research by allowing scientists to share their findings in a welcoming environment.

“These meetings allow us to communicate our work to fellow scientists with similar interests,” says Colecraft, John C. Dalton Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center. “We spend a lot of time in the lab working on the details of a specific scientific problem but our work is not really complete until it is shared,” he said.

Colecraft says one of the most important benefits of an SRC is hearing about the latest research from your peers and thinking about how these new results or techniques might contribute to your own research.

Colecraft was one of a handful of organizers who hosted an international meeting in 2019. He says being an SRC organizer for an international conference wasn’t unlike hosting a U.S. event, though the exotic tastes of Lisbon, Portugal, did make the SRC more enjoyable. “Beyond the great science, people loved the food. That’s usually a point of complaint at conferences, but not here. Attendees liked being in such an interesting city and loved exploring,” he said.

Colecraft recommends that scientists planning an overseas SRC focus their marketing on both the U.S. and the destination country to capture new attendees, and he encouraged organizers to launch registration marketing early. Potential attendees take a bit more time to plan for an international destination than a domestic one. “Ultimately, they come for the science. The environment is a real bonus,” said Colecraft.

Most importantly, he felt it was critical for him to raise as much money as possible to offset the greater travel costs to both invited speakers and junior scientists. “I wanted to reimburse our invited speakers as much as we could, and I especially wanted a robust representation of new faculty and young scientists who otherwise would not be able to attend,” Colecraft said.