by Karla Miller
Let me start with something that isn’t a secret: we are a young society. The ISMRM has over 3000 members who are classed as trainees – over 45% of our members. These early-career researchers have their finger on the pulse of our future. And now they’ve created their own meeting-within-a-meeting. Just for you.
What’s the big idea? At last year’s meeting, I took the liberty of interpreting my role as Education Chair very broadly. If we learn by doing, surely a crucial part of being Education Chair is empowering young researchers to DO more at the meeting. And it was that line of thinking that led to the Secret Sessions.
What are Secret Sessions?
I issued an open invitation to our young members: we provide the space, you provide the Session. And the Sessions they planned were utterly different from the rest of the meeting. Last year, topics included open discussions on the scientific process and software architecture; skills development; leadership and communication; and a post-symposium roundtable on machine learning. When all was said and done, the topics weren’t at all what I had expected – and that was precisely the point.
Why are they secret?
The real secret is… they aren’t a secret! But they also aren’t part of the official program, which is put together by the hard-working AMPC 6-18 months in advance. By remaining “off-program”, Secret Sessions can be more adventurous, informal and even last minute. And most importantly: Secret Sessions can be planned by anyone with an idea and the drive to make it a reality.
Who plans the Secret Sessions?
Last year I helped to shepherd the first Secret Sessions into being, engaging as many students, post-docs and junior faculty as I could. This year, I took a big step back and handed the reins over to two of our most enthusiastic young Sessionists: Zahra Hosseini and Phil Ward*. Phil and Zahra have headed a dedicated cadre of Secret Organizers who have put together an innovative and exciting Secret Program. Just for you.
What Secret Sessions are being held in Paris?
This year’s Sessions cover huge range of innovative topics. Big science, entrepreneurship, mentorship speed-dating, and skills development are all on the menu. And on Thursday we have an entire afternoon on public engagement, culminating in our Magnetic Moments final. Check out the Secret Program for more details.
Where can I find the Secret Sessions?
In the Resonarium. This is a dedicated space we’ve created for our early-career members in the exhibit hall. There is a lounge area with comfy seating and a theatre setup for the Sessions. You’ll find flip charts and white boards. And new this year is Carinne’s Corner where you can get coaching on public engagement from a professional. And maybe do a bit of improv.
How can I get involved?
While this year’s Sessions are all planned, next year is a whole new adventure. Come and speak to myself, Zahra or Phil. Let’s make your idea happen! Most importantly – please attend a Session or just hang out in the lounge. We hope the value goes beyond any individual Session – we’re trying to create a sense of community and empowerment for junior researchers to shape their own meeting.
* Keep your eye on these two. I’m pretty sure I’ll be (happily) working for one or both of them some day…