HAPS Leadership (#14): Animal Use Committee

Last year, during the annual HAPS conference in Las Vegas, I was checking out the exhibit hall between seminar presentations.  It was the second full day of the conference – Monday – and you could feel an amazing electricity in the crowd.  I spotted Nick Despo, chair of the Animal Use Committee, sitting off the side.  He was out of breath, but laughing, as we made eye contact.  I came up and asked what was so funny.

Talk to Nick about the great posters that his group have presented at recent conferences.
Talk to Nick about the great posters that his group have presented at recent conferences.

“It’s always such a hoot to see the First-Timers get into the Scavenger Hunt.  I just spent the last few minutes, helping a group of First-Timers run Eric Sun to ground.  We cornered him over by the coffee stand and pinned him down for autographs.  I saw a couple of Regional Directors on the other side of the room and sent the First-Timers after them.  I’m just catching my breath before the next big onslaught of people with cards to sign.”

 The Scavenger Hunt is a tradition that we – the HAPS Steering Committee – developed in 2007 and have enjoyed every year since.  First-Timers get a card listing almost all of the HAPS Committees and their Chairs.  The goal is to get all of the Chairs to sign your card, as well as two fellow First-Timers and your Regional Director.  Once you turn your card into the Steering Committee, it goes into a drawing for the chance to win free conference registration to next year’s annual conference.

“The Scavenger Hunt is such a great idea!  It’s wonderful to see First-Timers collaborate in finding Chairs.  People who might otherwise have trouble meeting people now have a common goal with a hundred others.  Pretty soon, they’re chatting, working together to bring down a Chair, agreeing on a place for lunch, and becoming an integral part of the HAPS family.  Wow!”

Quick, there goes a chair!  You take the left and I'll catch him on the right!
Quick, there goes a chair! You take the left and I’ll catch him on the right!

 Just then, several First Timers see the infamous bulls-eye button on Nick – designating him as a signer – and they rush to him with their cards.  He happily starts telling them about his committee, grabbing cards and telling me to help find the other Chairs who haven’t signed yet.  I grab a few First-Timers and head off after Pat Bowne – Communications Committee – as I hear Nick laughing.

“Welcome to HAPS!  Tell me, what do you know about proper animal use in the lab?”

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