2022 Student Scholarship Winner: Nico Menjivar

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Published on: December 6, 2022

I would first like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the selection committee for the opportunity to attend the 2022 AETA annual convention as a selected recipient of a Student Scholarship Award. The critical knowledge, practical applications, industry-based perspectives, and technical approaches coupled with the interactive aspects of the agenda to facilitate connections are among some of the top highlights from my time spent in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a rarity to be surrounded by so many inspired individuals devoted to furthering assisted reproductive technologies and the field of embryo transfer, so I can confidently say it was an honor to have experienced this opportunity among so many world-renowned leaders.

The driving force and primary objectives that initially piqued my interest in attending the annual convention stemmed from my desire to network with industry-leading scientists to better gauge the functional applications of my primarily in vitro work. Moreover, the opportunity to bridge scientific connections with the diverse speakers and attendees could aid in propagating an optimal postgrad transition, whether it be to a postdoctoral position or an industry-based professional occupation.

The agenda put forth by the organizing committee was diverse in many aspects, spanning from concepts of utilizing beef embryos in a dairy setting to delving into embryo production at the level of a human IVF clinic. The overwhelming presence of practitioner perspectives was truly a highlight, and the discussions facilitated from session to session were proactive, with very relevant inquiries and areas of focus needing a more grounded understanding. A highlight I won’t soon forget was the student–mentor lunch. Having the opportunity to connect with other students from different institutions to discuss interesting topics such as DVM vs PhD and research vs applied application, not to mention our desired career paths, was an opportunity to gain immense perspective as a trainee. With that, I’d like to personally thank Dr. Brad Lindsey for his insight and willingness to be transparent with any and all inquisitive questions. His knowledge in the realm of embryo transfer is immeasurable, and the field is better off because of his direct contributions.

Of all of the sessions I attended, I gained insight from each, and I commend the speakers on their keenness to disseminate their work on such a scale. Of the many who spoke, I highly resonated with two individuals for more reasons than one. First, Dr. Pablo Juan Ross, who discussed the advancements in sex-sorted semen from the industry perspective of STgenetics™. It is quite refreshing to see someone as accomplished as Dr. Ross flourish from the perspective of conducting research at an institution to an industry-based position where his work still continues to push the field forward. Second, Dr. Jordan Thomas, who discussed the caveats of system management. Prior to attending the AETA convention, I was familiar with Dr. Thomas’s work, but following the convention, I have a greater appreciation for folks who, even at such a young age, are able to instill inspiration among the next generation and do so in the most articulate manner.

Overall, leaving Louisville, I feel inspired by the people leading the efforts of the AETA and motivated by the work presented at the 2022 annual convention. In closing, I’d like to once again thank the folks who made this opportunity available to me and my peers, and I look forward to attending many more conferences in the years to come!

Nico Menjivar

Colorado State University

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