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A week has passed since I landed in the United States of America. I’ve already traveled around 8000 kms and swiched time zone 3 times. I will here describe the key moments of my firsts stops at Boca Raton, Florida and then in San Diego, California. It’s quite difficult to deal with organizing the many interviews and to add material online. But people I meet are amazing!
The many joys of air travel…
My air travels didn’t all go as smooth as planned.
After more than 18 hours in transit, 2 air travels (with a nice stop in NYC), I arrived in Miami at 8.30pm where Guillaume Dumas (cofounder of HYPhD) kindly picked me up. My suitcase was less lucky and stayed in NYC. Hopefully I stayed a few days in Miami and could wait for it and had enough with me to survive, namely my passport and my computer.
The last preparations before the official beginning of HackYourPhD in the US
Thanks to the 3 days I spent in Roca Raton (1h from Miami), I had time to finalize the preparation before the official start in San Diego. I spent 3 days non stop to organize meetings, couchsurfing, to write down the interviews etc. Guillaume helped me a lot with setting up the different parts of the website.
It is no easy task to organize a two months long trip. Long life to multitasking!
A dive into the research world.
This stay in Miami was an occassion to get back into the world of research, that of Cognitive Science. I spent my days working in the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences where Guillaume works.
I rediscovered those sexy wide poster filled scientific corridors…
For a deeper dive, I took part in an EEG experiment and ended up with 120 electrodes on my head. While signing consent form, I insisted that the experimenter should open my data.
Departure to San Diego
The departure to San Diego was quite a rush. I woke up one hour before take off. I still can’t believe we managed to get into that plane after a 30min car drive and a sprint in the airport passing everybody at the security gate. This travel and the two following ones went fine. I particularly enjoyed the last one in a small propeller aircraft.
First event: the official opening of BioTechAndBeyond
Just after I arrived in Carlsbad (1h North from San Diego), I attended the official opening of BioTechAndBeyond.
It is 550m2 space that defines itself as both a biohackerspace and a startup incubator. Its business model is based upon a subscription fee to get access to the space. BioTechAndBeyond was created by Joseph Jackson, co-founder of BioCurious and organizer of the OpenSience Summit who clearly states during my interview (available here) that this is BioTechAndBeyond is not a classical biohackerspace. Rather, he wants this space to be used by biotech experts to turn their ideas into a prototype with the aim to present it to investors.
I discussed with other guests and many were suprised by the fact that the material was quite old. As for me, I did find the place was very business oriented.
However it does remain an initiative that tries to bring biotech companies and researchers together, which is probably needed in California. But I’m not sure such an initiative would work in France where it is rather unusual to find private biotech investors. But who knows!
More information can be found in the storify.
The Green Neuroscience Lab : Open Neuroscience in all its splendor!
I attended to the celebration of the first year of one of the more innovative lab in neuroscience: the Green Neuroscience Lab.
It was co-created by Ann Lam and Elan L.Ohayon. This lab is hosted in the amazing « ansir innovation center ». It is both a coworking space, and startup incubator and a research lab. It diffuses an extremely soothing and relaxing atmosphere. Have you ever seen a lab in which people remove their shoes before entering the lab as if they were entering a dojo.
This event was really intense. I discussed with Jai S. Coggan, director of the Neurolinx Institute, the institute which hosts the green neuroscience lab (interview can be found here). His view of neurosciences is very innovative. He wants to bring researchers to think out of the box and to engage in unexplored paths that normally wouldn’t get any funding.
I was also very impressed by the maturity of the young students of the lab. They are often only undergrad but already present their early work in prestigious neuroscience conferences such as SFN 2013. See the interviews of Laura and of Hailey
We went back to the place two days later to discuss with Ann and Elan for more than 2 hours. (Interview here)
This place was highly inspiring and I hope that a Green Neuroscience lab will open in France as well someday.
I’ll soon co-write a post on this project with Thanh Nghiem (OpEEE)
Attending an international conference and hacking it a bit… check
I attended a neuroscience conference in San Diego ( ASSC17) and lived it from the inside. Poster sessions, conferences, the student social events. I discussed about OpenScience with the participants who often don’t know much about it but always show enthusiasm and feel that things have to evolve. Here are two interviews. Axel Cleeremans (research director at l’université Libre de Bruxelles) and Thomas Strandberg Phd student in Sweden. More to come soon!
Next Stop: Los Angeles and San Francisco..
In LA, I plan to visit a hackerspace and to organize an openscience meetup at USC. The following week in SF will be intense! Don’t hesitate to consult the mini web site where I add all the interviews and some news regularly.
Thanks a lot to Vincent Adam for the translation from french to english