IMU Medical Biotechnology student from Indonesia, Andrew Octavian Sasmita relates his experience presenting at a Life Science Conference in Bangkok, Thailand and winning the Best Paper Presenter Award
Having completed my final year research project in Medical Biotechnology at International Medical University, which focused on the mechanisms of a natural compound in ameliorating excessive neuroinflammation, I was nominated by various lecturers and peers to attend a conference to present my research findings.
Although I had a similar idea to communicate my findings, I was quite overwhelmed with doubts that such findings, especially ones obtained at an undergraduate level research, will not be as substantial as others being presented at an international conference. With enough support and careful consideration, I took my chances and chose the International Conference of Healthcare and Life-Science Research held in Bangkok, Thailand from 22-23 July, to present the findings of my research project.
The first positive thing that I expected from this conference was mostly exposure. Not only was this my first time attending a conference, I also had to present in it, so my morale was very diminished at the possibility of how the research that my supervisors had guided me through might come across as incomplete, or worse, irrelevant. It was nerve-wrecking and I practiced copiously before and after I reached the conference venue, Asian Institute of Technology.
With butterflies in my stomach and a laser pointer, I took the stand and started presenting. As my presentation ended, I realised that I was exposed not only to researchers from various other disciplines, but also to the different perspectives that they viewed my research in. Some were more interested in the natural compound that I was working in, some were more intrigued at its further clinical applications, while some others were interested in compound modifications.
Aside from the exposure, I also had the privilege to make connections with various other researchers from around the globe, and I felt that it was not only beneficial to me, but it was potentially beneficial too for IMU as the university I was representing. It seems very romanticised the way I recall it, but not only were the other speakers and organisers very accommodating to the kinds of questions I ask about their research, they were also constructive about points of the research I presented which they think I can improve on, so it was very cohesive and humbling at the same time. Despite the nervousness surrounding my very short stay in Thailand, I was grateful enough that I won the ‘Best Paper Presenter’ in that conference, firstly because I was one of the, if not the youngest presenter, but also because it was my first ever win. I was jolly, of course, but to a further extent, I was hopeful. Hopeful to do more research, stumble in between, overcome them, and communicate them to the rest of the scientific community. I believe that conferences, aside from other platforms such are publications, are assessments of how valid one’s research can be in the eyes of other researchers, so in my opinion, it is a great way to attend conferences as the first step in delving into the research world. Related article: My Experience Studying Medical Biotechnology at IMU