The goal of the AGEM retreat is to discover, share and learn from each other’s research. This year was particularly challenging for the organization of the AGEM retreat. With some delay in the usual calendar due to the situation with COVID-19, we managed to organize a one-day online event to substitute the 2-day presential retreat that normally takes place in Garderen.

AGEM retreat 2020
Online event via ZOOM
October 8th, 2020

With participation of over 80 attendees, among which not only PhD candidates but also several postdocs and PI’s, we can look back on a fantastic AGEM online retreat for the year 2020. At the start of the event three winners of “Best publication of 2019” were announced (Thijs de Rooij, Joanne Donkers and Marjolein van den Boogert).

The program started with a keynote lecture, given from Dr. Giles Yeo (University of Cambridge), that gave us extremely interesting arguments to explain why being obese is not a personal choice and helped us deepen into genetics of obesity.

One of the most important parts of the AGEM retreat is to give a space for PhD candidates to share their research and receive input from a diverse audience. Luckily, the online format of the retreat allowed us to organize this. Four different PhD candidates from different AGEM scientific fields gave a 7 minute presentation with time for questions and discussion.

Given the success of the workshops from last years, we could also offer the attendees the opportunity to choose which workshop to attend from an array of relevant topics. The options offered this year were: “Working from home” in these strange times, “Dealing with PhD stress”, “Online presentation skills”, “Teaching the teacher” and “PhD career development” where we could learn the different career paths and possibilities that a PhD holder can pursue.

To continue the spirit of previous years, this years’ entertainment part at the end of the day was also themed: “The crazy 20’s”. Participants could join a pub-quiz hosted by professionals (Mr. Bright’s Quiz Night) and answer from the comfort of their houses a variety of questions, enjoying a “prohibition era” cocktail, that ended with an overall winner. The winner will receive a prize from the AGEM retreat committee after the event. It was a real pity not being able to interact as much as we normally do in this retreat but given the circumstances, we can affirm that the alternative event was a success.

At the end of the event a poll was made during the Zoom meeting to obtain feedback from participants in order for us to acknowledge the positive and not so positive sides of the online event.

Thank you all for making this a great AGEM retreat 2020. We look forward to seeing you again (hopefully in person), and welcoming new participants in 2021!

On behalf of the Organizing Committee,
Maria P. Clemente