This year’s Annual CEHG Symposium (a.k.a CEHG18) took place Monday, February 26, 2018 in Paul Brest Hall on Stanford campus.
The central purpose of this event was, first and foremost, to showcase the amazing research being done in CEHG faculty member labs. As CEHG’s faculty membership continues to grow (we are now home to 43 member labs from disciplines across the Humanities and Sciences and School of Medicine!), our academic community becomes even more diverse and impactful. This year’s speaker presentations truly embodied CEHG’s interdisciplinary and collaborative spirit.
Secondly, this year’s symposium featured keynote and guest speakers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, representing CEHG’s consistent efforts to reach out into the larger scientific community and enable new conversations and collaborations that will inform and drive current and future CEHG projects.
This year’s keynote presenter, Dr. Anne Stone, traveled from her home institution, Arizona State University (ASU), in order to enlighten us on “The Origins and Evolution of Tuberculosis in the Americas.” As Principal Investigator (P.I.) of ASU’s Stone Lab, Dr. Stone is an expert in the field of anthropological genetics, making her the perfect headliner for CEHG’s annual flagship event; her research, as well as the work currently being conducted in her group, is essentially cross-disciplinary, variously involving bioarchaeological, molecular genetic, population genetic, and genomic analyses.
Guest speakers were nominated by various members of the Executive Committee, thereby representing our faculty’s varied disciplinary interests and expertise. Dr. Graham Coop–currently Professor of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis and formerly a postdoctoral scholar in CEHG Director Jonathan Pritchard’s group in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago–presented on his work at the intersections of population biology and quantitative genetics.
Dr. Lauren O’Connell, new Assistant Professor in Stanford’s Biology Department and PI of the O’Connell Lab, shared some findings from her current work on “Chemical Ecology in Poison Frogs.” Her lab uses amphibians as a model system for understanding the molecular and genomic contributions to biological diversity, as they display tremendous variation in behavior and physiology.
Assistant Professor of Statistics and of Biomedical Data Science at Stanford, Dr. Julia Palacios explored scientific responses to the important question, “How Much History Can We Learn from Genetic Data?” As P.I. of the Palacios Group, her core research interests include developing and using statistical methods to understand observed genetic variation in humans and pathogens. Her presentation was informed by her work in efficient statistical inference and efficient probabilistic modeling in evolutionary genomics, infectious diseases, and more general stochastic processes that could have significant impacts on public health.
Our last speaker of the day, Dr. Pleuni Pennings (currently Assistant Professor in San Francisco State University’s Department of Biology), has a long-standing working relationship with Stanford CEHG; she formerly served as CEHG’s Communications Manager and was a postdoctoral scholar in CEHG Executive Committee Member Dmitri Petrov’s Lab. It was wonderful to see her again and to hear her speak about her current research on “The Evolution of HIV Evolution.” Click here to read more about the HIV research currently being conducted in Dr. Plenning’s CODE Lab.
Our trainee speakers were truly impressive in the breadth of their research interests and their passionate scientific engagement. Current and previous Stanford CEHG Fellow speakers included Arbel Harpak (from Stanford’s Pritchard Lab), Chao Jiang (Snyder Lab), and Gili Greenbaum (Rosenberg Lab). More CEHG trainee member research was showcased in presentations by Emily Ebel (from Stanford’s Petrov Lab), Peyton Greenside (Kundaje Lab), and Eilon Sharon (Stanford Fraser and Pritchard Labs). As a special guest in CEHG Director Marcus Feldman’s Stanford lab, Martin Pontz (from the University of Vienna) presented his graduate work, located at the intersections of mathematics and biological science, on “Deterministic and Stochastic Two-Locus Models.”
Registration and Attendance
More than 160 students, faculty, University staff, and industry affiliates registered for this year’s symposium, and 130+ attended speaker sessions, the keynote presentation, lunch, and poster presentations, indicating substantial interest in the work our faculty and trainee members are doing in their respective CEHG labs, and active engagement amongst our community members.
We were also thrilled to see, and catch up on the exciting work of, friends and colleagues from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and LANGEBIO Mexico who attended this event. CEHG co-sponsored this year’s Tinker Symposium on Latin American Research for Biodiversity, which took place in the two days following the CEHG18 Symposium. Many UNAM and LANGEBIO Mexico attendees arrived in the US early, specifically for the purpose of attending our CEHG18 Symposium. Their presence was truly appreciated, and contributed significantly to the high quality of event interactions and post-presentation discussions.
Lunch and coffee breaks made this event an important networking opportunity for our (junior and senior) community members and visiting scholars. Event photographs display the joy CEHG members experience in connecting with one another–reuniting with long-time colleagues and collaborators, making new academic friends and partnerships, and (re)connecting with faculty and trainees from other labs and academic institutions.
We have held previous Center events at Paul Brest Hall (located in Munger Complex), and over time have come to view this venue as symposia home base. It is just the right size for our 130+ event size, lighting is warm and comfortable, facilities are clean and new, and Munger staff are always attentive, responsive, and courteous. AV staff manage presenter slides and resolve technical problems, making event facilitation that much easier for staff.
For event photography, we have worked for the last three symposia with Saul Bromberger from Saul Bromberger & Sandra Hoover Photography. Saul is always a pleasure to work with, and his photographs capture the energy and intense engagement of speakers and audience members alike. If you would like to see photos from CEHG18 (and other Center event and program albums), click here.
This event would certainly not be possible without the active engagement and dedicated service of our trainee volunteers. It takes more than a dozen volunteers to facilitate an event of this size, and our trainee volunteers were involved with every level of event operations. Volunteers (namely, Ziyue Gao, Jing He, and Chuan Li) emceed our speaker sessions, introducing speakers, facilitating Q&A sessions, and keeping track of presentation times. Mic runners included current CEHG Fellows Arbel Harpak and Boxiang Liu, and visiting UNAM scholar, Miriam Bravo.
Designated volunteer tweeters–including Sur Herrera Paredes, Yuping Li, and Arturo Lopez Pineda–covered all of our CEHG18 speaker presentations (search #CEHG18 on twitter to catch up on their thread). Arturo also helped run our registration table, along with CEHG trainee members, Karthik Jagadeesh and Aashish Jha. Last, but certainly not least, CEHG volunteers Ziyue Gao and Laksshman Sundaram supported staff during setup and clean-up pre- and post- event, along with visiting UNAM scholar, Viridiana Villa Islas.
As you can see, it takes a village to run a large academic event like the annual CEHG symposium, and our village is comprised of extraordinarily committed, selfless, service-minded pre- and post-doctoral trainees. We would be truly remiss if we did not take this opportunity to thank our volunteers for their time, talents, and continuing commitment to making CEHG a remarkable place to work, learn, and grow.
CEHG staff would like to take this final opportunity to thank our Directors, Drs. Marcus Feldman and Jonathan Pritchard, and our Executive Committee–comprised of Drs. Carlos Bustamante, Hank Greely, Dmitri Petrov, Noah Rosenberg, and Chiara Sabatti–for their vision, guidance, and support throughout the CEHG18 planning process.
Center staff are already in the process of planning next year’s annual symposium (a.k.a CEHG19). To stay abreast of event news and receive symposium updates as soon as they are available, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org; ask to join our Stanford CEHGCenterall listserve. We hope to see you at CEHG19!