Last weekend I left for the 2011 Annual American Society for Microbiology (ASM) meeting. This year it was held in New Orleans, LA. I have been going to ASM since 2001, except I missed the last two years. It is a heavy scientific conference that leaves me with a mushy brain by the time it is over. This year though was fun and exciting since my new job allowed me to see more unusual talks.
The first session I went to was on the BP oil spill and how the microbial population was affected and how those microbes helped degrade the hyrdocarbons in the sea water. The other and most exciting talks were on how microbes can help feed the world. In this session I learned how bacteria can help plants survive in high salt concentrations which may lead to watering crops with 1/2 sea water. This would be huge for developing countries that don’t always have access to fresh water. They also talked about the use of viruses and fungi to help plants grow in high temperatures, drought and combat plant pathogens.
Inside the convention center there is a sea of posters in addition to all the talks. And on the other side is a sea of vendors vying to swipe your card so they can send you all sorts of crap.
Of course, being in New Orleans, there was lots to see and eat :) There were lots of crawfish, shrimp, crab, fish, gumbo and jambalaya. I even had an alligator sausage Po-boy for dinner the first night!
It was Jodi’s birthday and Andy’s college graduation on Sunday, so I gave them some beads and they got a delicious chocolate cake for dessert.
We went on a walking ghost tour in the French Quarter with this interesting guide. I had a hard time following what she was saying, and the hurricane I was drinking did not help the situation.
The last night we had the obligatory Beignets and Cafe au Lait at Cafe du Monde. They were excellent!
Unfortunately, I brought two pair of new shoes and the ones I wore the last night caused the back of my heel to cut open and bleed. It looked horrible, but after cleaning off all the blood it wasn’t too bad.