ASV Meeting Survival Guide - Beginners Edition

The American Society for Virology (ASV) is a vibrant community of virologists from all areas of the field. The annual meetings are rich in diverse scientific offerings and often draw sizable crowds, sometimes exceeding 1600 attendees! While these meetings may not quite rival some of the goliath meetings out there (think ASM, American Society for Cell Biology, etc.), they are still big enough that seeing and attending everything presents a challenge. With a little planning, and the help of the ASV meeting mobile app, you can make sure to get the most out of attending the ASV annual meeting.


About a month before the meeting, you will receive an email containing a link and instructions to access to the meeting program and workshop/poster abstracts. You can do this in two ways: through the ASV mobile app or by downloading the PDF version of the program. Familiarize yourself with what’s in the PDF and/or app and how to access them ahead of time. Although the meeting program PDF will contain scheduling information and has a format that many like, it is static and will be subject to change. In addition to final adjustments to the program, sometimes there are unanticipated schedule and room changes – and those updates will only be reflected in the mobile app, not the PDF.

The mobile app is updated regularly to reflect any changes and is available for iPhone, Android, and laptops/desktops. Log in and you’re ready to go. The app is free and easy to use. It contains the meeting program, the room locations, information on meals and social events, and you can even construct your own schedule of the talks/posters you want to see.  Keep in mind that frequent use of the app may drain your phone battery. Remember to connect to the Wi-Fi, close out of apps when you are not using them, and bring a charger with you.

Spend some time on the app a week or so before the meeting, planning your schedule and getting to know its features. ASV is jam-packed with workshops occurring concurrently, and there’s no way to go to everything. You may need to jump from workshop to workshop to catch every talk you want to see. Having a plan ahead of time maximizes the chance you’ll be able to see and to participate in everything you want. We promise that you will not have time to plan your schedule at the meeting! Although ASV tries to maintain a tight schedule to accommodate workshop hopping, be aware that sometimes workshops can run a little ahead or behind schedule, and it may take you some time to walk to another workshop depending on the venue. If you’re hoping to attend consecutive talks, it’s possible you will miss part of one or the other in transit. It’s ok to come in late or leave early; just remember to be mindful of not disturbing others if you’re entering or exiting a meeting room while a workshop is in session.

ASV is a large, dynamic, and schedule-packed meeting; don’t feel pressure to attend everything! There are a few types of events on the schedule:

Symposia Sessions (Plenary lectures): These take place each morning of the meeting and cover topical themes in current virology. Speakers are selected by the ASV President and cover the speaker’s work in depth. There is no concurrent scheduling, because these are intended to be of interest to all attendees and are a great way to learn about fields outside of your own area. One morning session will also feature talks from the Ann Palmenberg Awardees; these are exceptional junior investigators who have made significant contributions to virology.

State of the Art lectures: These lectures take place at the beginning of select Workshop sessions and feature top-notch scientists presenting exciting work that expands a field of interest. These talks will cover the speaker’s work in depth, like the morning Plenary sessions, but they take place concurrently with other workshop sessions. These may be more specialized than morning sessions and can be a great place to learn about advances in a given field. For more information on what these talks may cover, it can be helpful to check out the speaker’s personal lab webpage or glance over their recent publications.

Workshop sessions: These are the bread-and-butter talks of ASV. Concurrent workshop sessions span all areas of virology, with some focused on specific virus families and others on thematic areas of research. Most oral talks last for 12 minutes with 3 minutes for questions. These workshops often end with a set of “flash talks,” which are short 3-minute talks that highlight a speaker’s upcoming poster. The flash talks do not have time for questions, so you can find the speakers at their posters to ask your questions there! At any given time, multiple workshop talks will be taking place in different rooms and buildings, so feel free to jump between sessions to catch talks covering your favorite topics. Use these talks to learn about what your peers are working on, to identify new collaborators or mentors, or to learn about something entirely new. Younger scientists, such as students and postdocs, are more likely to benefit from attending most of the talks and posters that are related to their own research interests.

Flash talks: At the end of each workshop, there are  several brief 3-minute talks by various presenters. These talks, presented by the authors of posters, offer a condensed overview of the research showcased in one of the poster sessions, resembling an "elevator-pitch" style presentation. The day that a flash talk is given will be the same as the poster session where the presenter will offer more insight and answer questions on their work. (Example: A flash talk given on Wednesday will be part of the Wednesday poster session.)

Poster sessions: Poster presentations are divided into three sessions and are followed by social networking time. Posters are a great opportunity to ask questions about science that you find interesting, and to connect with scientists who share your areas of research interest. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet one-on-one with other scientists, to ask questions, and get to know other meeting attendees.

Special events: Throughout the meeting, keep any eye out for events taking place that are relevant to your special interests, including a live recording of This Week in Virology (TWiV), lunch time discussion tables (pre-registration required), workshops run by the Communications and Education & Career Development Committees, Councilor for Virology Trainee “Office Hours,” Careers Beyond Academia Workshops, and the Assistant Professor Bootcamp. These events may be concurrent with other scheduling, so make sure to prioritize your favorites.

Welcome events: On the first day of the meeting, before and after the Keynote Address, attend the welcome reception or the post-workshop social event, to see old friends and meet new ones. Take advantage of the welcome reception refreshments, because the next time for food in the program is later in the evening at the social event!


One of the most important parts of ASV is networking. This is a terrific chance to meet other virologists at all career levels. We are all there because we are excited about viruses and science in general. Each person’s particular career level may impact their networking goals and how they pursue them.

Ask questions during and after talks and posters! Most people are happy to stick around and talk! (What scientist doesn’t want to talk about their work?) Coffee breaks and evening social events are also great times to meet new people. The Lunch Discussion tables, planned networking events, and special workshops are also great places to network in a more structured setting. Make sure to check out the bulletin board for job postings or other contact information. Don’t be shy, especially on the ASV dance floor!

Be sure to exchange contact information with those who you chat with at ASV! A great way to do this is by having a small stack of business cards available to hand out to those who you connect with. Some universities may already provide these cards to their students free of charge, so it’s always worth asking! Alternatively, there are dozens of commercial providers that can design, print, and ship these out to you. Include your name, institution, lab affiliation, title, email on it as well as your professional social media handles. Social media is also a great way to stay connected with your new ASV network! Consider adding these to your poster or presentation as a QR code to make it easier for your audience to find you online afterwards. The mobile app also allows you to connect and network by searching for people by name!

The American Society for Virology (ASV) is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. ASV will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind at ASV-sponsored or -associated events. For more information, see the anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy available at


A major part of trainees’ experiences at ASV revolves around presenting their research at the conference. While this is an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s important for presenters to take certain steps to make sure everything runs smoothly. Before you arrive at ASV, you will be asked to upload your presentation to a file hosting platform (Dropbox).With 60-plus workshops featuring almost 800 presenters, this system is simple, easy-to-use and eliminates the stress of waiting in line for a computer to upload your presentation during the meeting! PLUS, it helps to ensure that all the sessions run smoothly.

An onsite “speaker ready room” will be available with a very limited number of computers for uploading, reviewing, or updating presentation files.  We understand that scientific work is often in constant flux, however, we highly encourage you to upload your presentation ahead of time, so you can enjoy the meeting fully. PowerPoint’s live-captioning feature will be used during all presentations at ASV. You may want to practice in advance with live captioning turned on, so that you are used to having it present on the screen above your slides.

For those presenting posters, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the setup and or removal times for your poster session. You should try to visit your poster’s assigned spot before the session setup begins so you know where to to find it and quickly set up.  At ASV there are 200-300 posters being presented concurrently; knowing where to hang up your poster will  make setup a lot easier and stress-free.

ASV’s website will have a page of tips for each presentation type – oral talks, flash talks, and posters. Check those out for additional suggestions & details if you are a presenter!

Finally, enjoy the ASV Annual Meeting!



It is important to go into work you would like to do. Then it doesn't seem like work. You sometimes feel it's almost too good to be true that someone will pay you for enjoying yourself.”

- Gertrude B. Elion, winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the antiviral drug acyclovir and other therapeutics





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