Illustration by Laurene Boglio
The lobby of the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas was packed with scientists yesterday as they arrived for the first in-person meeting of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) in three years.
At this morning’s welcome session, organizers announced that a total of 1,891 people from 55 countries had registered, of whom around 1,000 eventually arrived in person – figures comparable to previous in-person gatherings.
Lorcan KennyNational Research Lead for Autism at the National Health Service in England, was quick to praise the meeting progress with inclusivitynoting the introductory remarks of the President of INSAR Connie Kasariprofessor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, and autism researcher and advocate John Elder Robisonwho joined the session via pre-recorded video.
people love to dive on it #insar2022 for being quite slow in improving its inclusive practices, and of course many of these criticisms have been fair, but credit is due, Connie Kasari’s introductory speeches and @johnrobison (via video) show he worked hard on this
— Lorcan Kenny (@LorcanKenny) May 12, 2022
Jessica Schwartzmanassistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, also applauded the morning keynote in Damien Fairprofessor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and director of Masonic Institute for Brain Developmentboth in Minneapolis, on “the problem of publication bias to inform psychopathology research,” Fair quoted directly in his tweet.
“Effect sizes are inflated because institutions are set up to value significant discoveries” ????#INSAR2022 Keynote Damien Fair on the issue of publication bias to inform psychopathology research
— Jessica Schwartzman, Ph.D. (@DrJessicaPhd) May 12, 2022
Attendees who thronged the coffee stations outside the Main Ballroom after the welcome session showed few signs of feeling out of practice with face-to-face interactions – although some awkwardness with the convening of the convention was inevitable, predicted Bhismadev Chakrabartiprofessor of neuroscience and mental health at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
— Bhisma Chakrabarti (@bhismadev) May 10, 2022
Despite all the novelty, some things at the meeting felt a little too familiar, researchers commented on Twitter. “Someone else to have problems with the #INSAR2022 app?” tweeted Alycia Halladayscientific director of the Autism Science Foundation.
Anyone else having problems with the #INSAR2022 application ? If it’s just me, I’ll gladly give up.
— Alycia Halladay (@AHalladayASF) May 11, 2022
Virtual participants, including Kenny and Kristen Bottema Beutelassociate professor of special education at Boston College in Massachusetts, also reported issues with the online meeting platform, such as video stream interruptions.
the #INSAR2022 the zoom keeps cutting out, and i just imagine there’s a cord somewhere behind the stage that people keep tripping over, unplugging everything
— Kristen Bottema-Beutel (@KristenBott) May 12, 2022
— Lorcan Kenny (@LorcanKenny) May 12, 2022
And then there were those on a third track at the reunion. Michael Sandbankassistant professor of special education at the University of Texas at Austin, said Spectrum that for the sake of COVID-19, she planned to stand outside the hotel, “strangely hidden— a strategy she tweeted about and adopted as part of her Twitter bio.
I’m pretty sure Spectrum keeps calling me for quotes, while others might be aware that they talk to the media and choose their words carefully, I’ll say things like that.
— Michael Sandbank (@MichealSandbank) May 11, 2022
(Incidentally, we’re oddly hidden in the press room, when we’re not running around the meeting, for anyone who wants to stop by and share their science, charming and candid quotes or other insights into how we can refine our coverage.)
Brian Leeassociate professor of epidemiology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tweeted to Sandbank that Spectrum should buy them drinks at the next meeting and record their conversation for more interesting quotes. See you both in Stockholm at the 2023 INSAR Annual Meeting?
Lee chose not to attend this week’s meeting due to his location, he told Us for a story yesterday, commenting that he “totally boycotted this conference from Texas to the land of guns, beef and where you don’t have your own womb”.
— Brian K. Lee (@brianklee_epi) May 11, 2022
For everyone in Austin now, we’ll end by offering this list of gay-owned businesses to support while you’re here so people can”shop their valuessays Ellie Kaplan Kahn, postdoctoral fellow at Autism Research Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
This has been distributed by others, but sharing this list of gay-owned businesses in Austin for people of #INSAR2022 to shop for their values. Can’t wait to see everyone (masked) there!! https://t.co/5AZbvUehPO
— Ellie Kaplan-Kahn, PhD (@elliekaplankahn) May 11, 2022
That’s it for today’s INSAR community newsletter! We’ll have a new batch of conference-related tweets for tomorrow. Follow our ongoing news coverage this week.
And as always, if you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in the area of autism research, please feel free to email [email protected]