7 days in US: conference & travel

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The 5th International Conference on Quantitative Genetics (ICQG5) was held on June 12-17, 2016, in the central Madison, Wisconsin, USA. It was the largest conference on quantitative genetics, with ~2.5k delegates coming across the world. The aim was to create a unique platform for researchers to share information on the latest methods, tools and resources in the field of quantitative genetics. I was selected to give a poster presentation.

Madison, although is the capital of Wisconsin state, is a very small town, in hence, there is no direct flight to Madison from Edinburgh. People usually do a flight transfer at the airport in New York or Chicago and the flight to Madison from there is very rare and expensive. However, since Chicago is very close to Madison, my final plan was to take a flight to Chicago, have one-night rest and take a 3.5-hour bus to Madison the next day.

I paid a visit to the Chicago downtown. Photo attached is the famous painting ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ from the world top art institute, The Art Institute of Chicago:


Tips: Uber costs ~55% of the taxi fare and museum/art institute in the USA may need entrance fee. City bus service is so weird. There is a reception-but-no-receptionist desk at the bus station. People need to buy the tickets through website or bus driver.

The conference was divided into 9 sessions, 2 sessions per day with a break on Wednesday afternoon and 5 speakers per session. The best part of this conference was, there was no parallel sessions, which provided a great opportunity for me to hear out all the talks that I was interested in. Some of the invited speakers were world-renowned, such as Dr. Bruce Walsh from University of Arizona, USA, Dr. Trudy Mackay from North Carolina State University, USA and Dr. Bill Hill from University of Edinburgh, UK.  A golden chance to meet and talk with the founders and textbook writers of quantitative genetics.

I paid a visit to the capitol of Wisconsin on Wednesday afternoon’s break, which is the 2nd biggest capitol in the USA, photo attached:


In general, the meeting was very successful and I have learned a few new methods, which is ready to try them on my own study. However, I found it extremely hard for a normal person, who hasn’t read related paper and who has no profound background knowledge, to fully understand some talks, which introduced nothing but fancy formulae for 40 minutes, no matter how hard I tried to catch up. Therefore, I highly recommend that, for a non-specialized conference, and for the best benefit of the general audience, it’s better if the speakers could introduce the method briefly and leave the formulae in the publication for those who have sufficient time and interest in reading and applying them, whereas mainly focusing on the concept, results and application of the methods.

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