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Binning singletons: Mentoring through networking at ASM microbe 2019

January 24, 2020

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) national conference, Microbe, is the flagship meeting for microbiologists across the globe. The presence of roughly 10,000 attendees provides enormous opportunities for networking and learning. However, such a large meeting can be intimidating to many, especially early career scientists, students, those attending alone, and those from historically underrepresented groups. While mentorship is widely valued by ASM and its members, finding concrete ways to develop new and diverse mentoring opportunities can be a challenge. We recognized the need for an initiative aimed at expanding peer-to-peer mentoring, facilitating networking, and providing support for Microbe attendees; therefore, we created the program Binning Singletons for ASM Microbe 2019. The program consisted of five steps named after tools or phenomena in the profession of microbiology: (i) Identify the Singletons (e.g., individuals attending alone), (ii) Bin the Singletons, (iii) Horizontal Transfer, (iv) Quorum Sensing, and (v) Exponential Growth. These steps resulted in the matching of participants unsure of how to get the most out of their conference experience (e.g., singletons) with mentors who assisted with meeting planning, networking, and/or impostor syndrome. Started on social media only a month before ASM Microbe 2019, the program successfully launched despite limited time and resources. Binning Singletons improved inclusivity and networking opportunities for participants at the conference. Here, we discuss what worked, and what can be improved, with an eye toward development of the Binning Singletons model for future conferences to provide opportunities to increase inclusivity, networking, and accessibility for singletons and build a stronger scientific community.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Binning singletons: Mentoring through networking at ASM microbe 2019
DOI 10.1128/mSphere.00643-19
Authors Joseph B. James, Amanda L. Gunn, Denise M. Akob
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title mSphere
Series Number
Index ID 70208020
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division