`Come on, you just want to attend the Summer School because it takes place in Sardinia and it’s sunny, right?`
This might be in fact what your PI will say when you ask to attend the Summer School of the European Network of Immunology Institutes (ENII) in Sardinia. This annual meeting for experienced PhD students and young PostDocs in the field of immunology took place in 2014 in the beautiful surroundings of the north-western coast of Sardinia in close proximity to the city of Alghero. In 2015, the meeting is scheduled for the stunning Porte Cervo. Apart from breathtaking views of the ocean from your hotel room and incredibly good Italian food three times a day which is even accompanied by wine (only in the evening though!), here are some convincing facts to prove your PI wrong.
- Amazing speakers and talks
The invited speakers are at the top of their specific immunological field and the talks reflect that in their high quality and their good educational structure. The talks do not only include an introductory of their research but also important, recent data from their labs.. Some of the topics covered in 2014 were: ‘Dendritic cell functions in the gut mucosa’ (by William Agace), ‘The organisation of immunological memory’ (by Andreas Radbruch) and ‘Innate regulation of adaptive immunity’ (by Caetano Reis e Sousa). After every Summer School, the speakers with the best evaluations are invited again for the next year, ensuring that only the top-notch speakers participate.
- Tutorial Sessions
A tutorial session took place for one hour each day. Here, one could decide between a ‘Q &A’ session with different speakers from that day, a lively discussion table about the speaker’s topic or other topics, including career advice, in small groups. When in the comfortable environment of a small group of students, no question asked felt dumb or pointless. It was a really good opportunity to get to know the speaker and “pester” them with questions.
- Social Events
The participants came from all across Europe and so did the speakers, providing a perfect chance to build a strong network with other students and PIs. During the Poster Sessions, which were quite intense and included lots of lively discussions, wine was served and that naturally loosened up the atmosphere a bit. Some speakers brought their husbands, wives and kids to the venue, which created an even more familiar environment. Two nights were dedicated to socializing with a pool party. Apart from maybe the worst DJ ever playing music on a conference, the parties proved to be a lot of fun for students and speakers.
The ENII Summer School is an amazing opportunity to meet excellent speakers and students from across Europe while learning a lot more about specific immunological topics. And let’s be honest: a lot of sun, a nice place to go hiking and good Italian food are always a good reason to attend a conference.