The Institute of Biological Engineering’s Annual Meeting in Norfolk, Va., could easily be described as a “Heather Hunt Production.” And for her efforts, the IBE gave her its 2018 Presidential Citation Award, one of its three biggest accolades.
The associate professor of Bioengineering at Mizzou was tabbed as a last-minute replacement for the previous chair of the meeting, who had to bow out in January due to unforeseen circumstances. Hunt took over with little time to spare — judging abstracts, finalizing speakers, scheduling the program, and much, much more.
“It was basically — we had the site set and the logistics set in terms of what the site was, but we had all of these abstracts that had come in that hadn’t been sorted and assigned to session chairs. We didn’t have session chairs. We had a schedule but we didn’t have speakers,” Hunt explained.
Still, after all that work, she figured a series of thank you’s was plenty. “Despite the rush, it was a great experience to have; learning how to build and run a conference on the fly was not how I wanted to get experience as a conference chair, but it taught me so much and I was grateful for the opportunity,” Hunt said. Little did she know, the IBE had a much bigger show of their gratitude in mind.
“I admit that I was very surprised that I won the award, because they had thanked me multiple times already,” Hunt said. “I certainly didn’t expect to get an award from it!”
Serving as chair also gave Hunt a front-row seat for MU Bioengineering graduate student Toni Matson’s excellent poster presentation, “Electrospinning Lecithin-Polycaprolactone Scaffolds using Gold Nanoparticles for Osteoarthritis.” Matson is a graduate student in Professor Sheila Grant’s research group in Bioengineering. As expected, the Mizzou Made Matson did a tremendous job.
“Her abstract was wonderful,” Hunt recalled. “She did a great job describing it. She was very poised, very collected. She recognized when there was a question she couldn’t answer and said she’d bring it back to her research group. She was very polished and represented the University of Missouri very well.”
Hunt and Matson showed the best of Mizzou Bioengineering at the 2018 IBE Annual Meeting. Next year, it will be closer to home. St. Louis was chosen as the site of the next event, which will make the travel easier and the logistics simpler for the 2019 chair — Hunt.