Please note that I am in full support of the concept of a FUN Mentoring Program. However, I raised the same issue of the in-person SfN attendance requirement for the launch of the FUN Mentoring Program that Elaine Reynolds and Bruce Johnson voiced in this listserv privately with our FUN President Kurt Illig a while ago now.
While I appreciate the Mentoring Program committee’s desire to follow the examples of other mentoring programs as closely as possible, those other programs were not launched in the middle of a pandemic. The delta variant is wreaking havoc in many parts of our nation, especially among young people our students’ ages. There are more COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide per capita now than we had last February. We are clearly at the start of another wave of COVID-19 transmission.
The American Society for Microbiology has just announced that they are canceling all in—person meetings for the remainder if 2021, including regional undergrad meetings, and converting some of them to virtual meetings. Many undergraduate
campuses are re-instituting masking and social distancing requirements for students, and have rescinded permission for students and faculty to travel to meetings this fall already. Given this set of circumstances, I join Elaine and Bruce in urging the Mentoring
Program Committee to consider a virtual launch, rather than an in-person one.
Meanwhile, the FUN Executive Committee will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and make appropriate decisions about the FUN poster session experience at SfN, which is still planned for in-person attendance as of right now. Although there is currently no virtual FUN poster session planned concurrent with SfN, FUN will hold NURVS II in the spring. Our students will have an opportunity to present their work at that time despite the pandemic, and without the need for travel funds or health risks caused by travel.
Mary Morrison, Ph.D.
FUN Past President
Assistant Professor of Biology
Co-Coordinator of the Neuroscience Program
Heim Building Room 107
1 College Place
Williamsport, PA 17701