On the Go: A New IRB Administrator’s First AER Conference

Over 2,500 research ethics professionals from the federal government, industry, and academia attended PRIM&R’s 2018 Advancing Ethical Research conference. The number of people attending the conference was thrilling to observe. I could not help but feel pride at seeing the many individuals tasked with maintaining ethical standards at various institutions. The session schedule was packed with keynote and panel presentations and over 100 breakout sessions about ethical issues, the federal regulations governing human subjects research, IRB administration and implementation, research review and monitoring, and Common Rule updates.

By the second day of the conference, I had mastered the PRIM&R Events app (accessible via iTunes or the Google Play Store). The app meant I could easily plot my day and explore session descriptions on my phone. It gave me access to all the handouts and slides, making it nearly impossible to miss out on pertinent information during the presentations. The app also offered event alerts and note taking capabilities. 

Using the app, I marked sessions I attended and sessions I wanted to attend. These demarcations within the app allowed me to go back to my day and reflect upon the information I learned from the individual panel sessions.

At the conclusion of one of the panel sessions, I was inspired to video record my day (using Hyperlapse, a time-lapse recording app). Tracing my day in writing and visually helps me encapsulate my experiences at the conference and reminds me of the wealth of information I gained as a conference attendee.

The video begins with me scrolling through the web-version of the conference agenda. Then, the video pans to conference attendees seated in one of the conference rooms. As I got up to leave the meeting, I walked out to the hallway and saw the caterers preparing the beverage break stations. The stations typically had water, coffee, and tea available to attendees. Walking down the second-floor hallway, I noticed the flurry of conference attendees heading to the ground floor for food and refreshments; many carried the official conference tote bag over their shoulders.

On the way to the exhibit hall, attendees stopped by the “Networking Ribbon,” station to accessorize their name badges with ribbons indicating their job titles, professional interests, and more. These accessories made it easy to connect with others and start a conversation. In the exhibit main hall, people grabbed lunch and snacks, networked with other attendees and the supporters and exhibitors, or attended one of the supplementary presentations.

After eating and socializing, I attended late afternoon presentations and breakout sessions.

Myra Luna-Lucero, EdD, is a Research Compliance Manager at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University. As a researcher and teacher, people are her highest priority and she instinctively communicates personal concern with others. She is an adept communicator who thrives on face-to-face interactions with a diverse body of students, faculty, and staff. She brings these qualities to her work to empower others to make informed decisions and reach their goals. She encourages researchers to ponder the roles they might play in the alleviation of the troubling inequities that continue to shape our world. She guides researchers on how to treat everyone as autonomous decision-makers who possess unique opinions. I present campus workshops on the importance of ethics, confidentiality, and protecting vulnerable populations. She meets individually with researchers to strategize ways to protect human subjects and do good work in the world.

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.