Open Box Science is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to promoting open science and democratising scientific training. The OBS grassroots community organises free virtual talks and seminars by early-career scientists and is open to all around the world. Since its foundation in 2020, Open Box Science has hosted more than 200 talks with active discussions on a huge variety of topics, including (but not limited to) cancer, immunology, genomics, microbiome, neuroscience and virology.
Anna Salamero Boix is the Director of Cancer Seminars at Open Box Science, and a PhD student in Dr Lisa Sevenich’s laboratory at Georg-Speyer-Haus, Frankfurt am Main. She is studying different ways to modulate anti-inflammatory pathways to boost radiotherapy response in brain metastasis.
As Anna has been an EACR member since 2021, she shares below how fellow EACR members can get involved in everything Open Box Science has to offer…
What are the benefits of early-career researchers presenting and hosting an Open Box Science session for maximizing networking opportunities and career development?
At Open Box Science, our events focus on first authors as speakers, thus highlighting early-career scientists at a career stage where promoting their work is most needed. Open Box Science promotes interactions live during the Zoom sessions, and after the fact on social media and YouTube, thus enabling cross-country interactions. Hosting a seminar is also a good way of networking with like-minded scientists.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing early-career researchers today, and how can Open Box Science help address these challenges?
In traditional conferences, early-career researchers are usually selected for a flash talk or for a poster presentation, which is a different format than the regular talks. Moreover, attending scientific meetings costs money and requires a higher amount of planning and time investment. Open Box Science is free and it is easier to accommodate a session in someone’s schedule. As a moderator, it is also a good practice to get in contact with researchers of a specific paper and discuss their scientific methods and findings.
“I see science as a collaborative effort and what one does not know can be complemented by someone else’s knowledge”
What has been the feedback from those who have attended Open Box Science talks?
Speakers, hosts and attendees consider Open Box Science to be a great forum to share their latest research with the whole scientific community and get feedback from fellow scientists.
What inspired you to get involved with Open Box Science, and what keeps you motivated to continue contributing to the organisation?
My participation in Open Box Science allows me to organise and host seminars and get in contact with researchers who otherwise I may not be able to interact with. I remember feeling really intimidated when hosting my first seminar, but afterwards I realised that there was no reason to feel like that! I see science as a collaborative effort and what one does not know can be complemented by someone else’s knowledge. The constructive and engaging discussions happening during the seminars keep me motivated.
How has being a part of Open Box Science impacted your own career development and networking opportunities?
I am more prone to ask questions and also to realise that we may not have all answers. It is definitely a good way to prepare for my PhD defense and get different perspectives on science. On a side note, I am myself a really shy person, especially in front of a camera, and my involvement in OBS has helped me to gain confidence in discussing research.
“Open Box Science is a great platform to discuss a topic of interest that may not be the same one your research focuses on”
What has been your favourite talk or experience with Open Box Science so far?
Probably the most remarkable moment is the way I discovered them. I was looking for a scientific paper and, instead of ending up in PubMed, I found the recording from the Open Box Science YouTube channel. I thought that was a fantastic platform to communicate science and to quickly hear about the data from the original paper. At that moment, I contacted the OBS team with the aim to organise a scientific meeting about a topic that interested me and they provided me with training material and a lot of support.
In your opinion, what are some of the most exciting developments happening in cancer research right now, and how can Open Box Science help facilitate discussion and collaboration around these topics?
I think that understanding and targeting cancer will be facilitated by the knowledge obtained by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the use of gene editing with CRISPR and a better understanding of targeting the immune system. This knowledge is coming from different disciplines. Open Box Science is a great platform to discuss a topic of interest that may not be the same one your research focuses on. As a scientist I think it is paramount to learn from constructive criticism since this may redefine the direction of our projects and this may help in improving outcomes for cancer patients.
How can fellow EACR members get involved with Open Box Science, either by presenting their own research or moderating a scientific session?
If you are interested in participating at Open Box Science, either as a moderator or a speaker, you can fill out the Join Us section of our website. We will then contact you to explain more about the project, the organisation and how you could get involved. We have a compendium of host-training material, including guidelines, safety plans, a slide check, and template posters for talk promotion.