Walking towards the conference center this afternoon, I was reminded of my first BPS, also in San Francisco. It was an unusually warm February, I was young and excited about science, and, arriving from the midwest's gelid winter, I remember feeling like this was one of the greatest cities in the world. Ten years or so on, and I'm no longer as fresh faced, but I still think San Francisco is my favorite city in the US. And considering that this may well be my last BPS, the symmetry is elegant.
The first talk out of the gate at the flurescence subgroup was Steve Blocks which was...not about fluorescence. I'm not sure why Steve was asked to speak (and neither was he, really), and he stuck mostly to the mechanics of the kinesin cycle. I think this was a particularly odd choice, since the fluorescence subgroup is usually technique-heavy (as the name implies). I think talking about optical trapping in general, as a technique, and comparing it's pros and cons versus fluorescence, would have been more interesting to the group at hand.
In the middle of the next talk, the power went down for about ten minutes. Nice work, Moscone center!
Eric Greene's work with "DNA curtains" looks very promising for biotech and research applications. (I'll include links and pictures later when I can get to a working PC.) By microfabricating onto the coverglass surface, they're able to make very reliable distributions of stretched DNA molecules, both with and without flow, and control the density very carefully. Looks very exciting!
During the cookie break, I hobnobbed with all the usual suspects: Ahmet Yildiz (a co-conspirator of mine in Paul Selvin's lab, now setting up his lab at Berkeley), Michael Woodside, Ibrahim Cisse (previously at Taekjip Ha's lab at UIUC and now post-docing in Paris), and Sterling Churchman (postdocing at UCSF) among others. Lab space, construction, the hiring of grad students and postdocs...all very exciting!
I stuck around to see the Young Fluorescence Investigator Award, which was given to JW Borst. In the past, the YFIA has generally gone to people associated with UIUC and/or the Laborator for Fluorescence Dynamics in some way or another. But since Enrico Gratton has moved the LFD to Irvine, I think it has diffused somewhat. I didn't know anything about Prof Borst's work before today, and was not totally blown away. He's using fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) to look at interaction of different factors in the cell. It looks interesting enough, but it didn't seem particularly novel to me. Maybe I'm missing something.
I was also surprised by the choice of Dan Axelrod for the Gregorio Weber prize. Dan has certain made a significant contribution to fluorescence through his introduction of TIRF microscopy. But I seem to recall that Dan left U Michigan very abruptly about six or so years ago, leaving a few people in the lurch, and has been laying low in California since then, apparently doing experiments out of his basement. I guess it was an easy commute for him at least. He's still listed on the U Michigan web page as having emeritus status. Who knows.
The Block lab, past and present, gathered together for dinner after the afternoon's talks, and then half of the lab returned to go see the evening motility talks (by Steve Rosenfeld) and the other half went over to the W Hotel and continued to drink in earnest until around half past midnight. We had a good time. Tomorrow morning (if I get up in time): protein-nucleic acid interactions ahoy!