And if you want to see my slides here they are
First, some background. The Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes meeting was, well, in Lake Arrowhead California. This is both a town and a lake and is in the San Bernadino Mountains East of Los Angeles.
Fortunately for all of us who were there, UCLA has a conference center in Lake Arrowhead, just off the lake itself. And for the last at least 12 years, every two years, there is a meeting in September at this Conference Center that focuses on microbial genomes in one way or another. The meeting has changed names, and has gone through a few different major financial supporters, but has always been organized in a large part by Jeffrey H. Miller from UCLA. Do not confuse him, please, with Jeffrey F. Miller, another microbiologist from UCLA. That would be a bad thing. Sort of like confusing me with my brother Michael.
Anyway, Jeffrey H. Miller has been the major force behind organizing this meeting and he has always done a bang up job on fostering a great atmosphere for both science and interaction. I am not sure what it is he does, but it always seems to work. One component is that Miller clearly believe that a conference is not only about hearing talks. Too many times recently I have been to meetings that were overscheduled with speakers and no time for relaxation or discussion or other activities (the Open Science Summit in Berkeley comes to mind - at that meeting I had to actually stage a coup of sorts to prevent the organizers from skipping lunch and all breaks just to have more talks). At the Arrowhead meetings, Miller always leaves a few hours in the afternoons free and then has poster viewing/reception time before dinner, plus reception time after evening talks. It works out well.
The Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes meeting has a bit of an unusual history. It is in essence part of a yearly meeting that used to be go by the name "Small genomes." And every two years, it happens in Lake Arrowhead under the direction of Jeffrey H. Miller. And since 1998 I have gone to this meeting each time it has come around: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and now 2010.
It all started for me in 1998. I originally signed up for the meeting to give a joint talk with A. John Clark. I was finishing up my PhD at Stanford on Evolution of DNA Repair Genes, Proteins and Processes and had a post doc lined up to work with Clark at Berkeley. John was the person who had discovered the recA gene many years before with his graduate student Ann Murgulies. Clark, Steven Sandler and others had been working on functional studies of archaeal homologs of recA and has recently turned their attention in collaboration with Norm Pace (who was then at Berkeley) to trying to use PCR amplification of the archaeal recA homologs to study uncultured archaea, much like Pace and others had done with rRNA. This was seemingly perfect for me as I had worked on both rRNA PCR of uncultured microbes and on evolution of recA (e.g., see here, here, and here) and on DNA repair in archaea.
Anyway, John was invited to give a talk at the Lake Arrowhead meeting and he asked if I would do a tag team talk with him where I could present the results of my phylogenomic analysis of DNA repair genes across the available genome sequences. So I said sure. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I went to the meeting.
Alas, there was some awkwardness there because after accepting the post-doc at Berkeley with Clark, I told him I was going to have to drop it. That was because in the meantime I had finagled my way into going to a dinner with Craig Venter when he came to Stanford to give a talk. At the dinner I proceeded to tell Craig that I thought some of the evolution stuff he was doing was sketchy and that the genome annotation at TIGR could be improved by phylogenetic analysis. I drew on napkins, told him about some of my recent papers and eventually he invited me to interview for a job. The interview went well and both I and my then fiancé now wife were both offered faculty jobs at Craig's institute "TIGR", which we accepted.
So here I was giving a joint talk with Clark yet had just told him I was ditching him for another job. Well, we soldiered through - but the rest of the meeting went well. I met all sorts of interesting people, developed multiple collaborations, and had a very good time. Shortly thereafter I moved to TIGR and began life as a genome sequencer. For more on the 1998 meeting, alas, there is not much out there on the web. But I did find my meeting book and some notes and I scanned them in (see below).