The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Ninth biennial Workshop in Virus Evolution a success

Marilyn Roossinck reflects on the international meeting of virologists.
Attendees of the ninth biennial Workshop in Virus Evolution. Credit: Penn State
Attendees of the ninth biennial Workshop in Virus Evolution, March 9-12, 2017. Credit: Nancy Wenner, Penn State      

“I’ve been hosting this meeting since 1999,” says Marilyn Roossinck. “It’s a workshop in virus evolution, and I usually limit it to about 50 people. We have a pretty good international contingency – a lot of people come from Europe, and it’s been really successful.”

“The theme is virus evolution,” she explains, “and it’s always been about virus evolution. I have never had a repeat on any of the invited speakers, so they’re always new. Every time I organize the meeting, I find new people to give the invited talks – to try to bring new ideas and new variety into the group – but a lot of people who have been invited in the past come on their own, which is very gratifying. That says they really like it.”

Over the past few years, Roossinck says, the theme has shifted “a little more into virus ecology, because that’s where my interests have moved, but it always seems to have a life of its own once it gets going. I try to build the schedule so there’s time for lots of interactions and time for discussions. I have established collaborations from this meeting, and I know a lot of other people have, too. So it’s been a very successful meeting.”

This year’s meeting was attended from as far away as Poland and Brazil, and Roossinck says that the attendees often “come from quite a distance, a lot of people from Spain and France, from the Pasteur Institute, from Montpelier, Madrid, and Valencia – we have a contingency that comes fairly regularly, in fact.”

She launched the first workshop while working in Oklahoma, and since coming to Penn State, Roossinck has hosted the event in central Pennsylvania for the past six years.

“The Huck Institutes has supported this workshop since I came here,” she says. “We usually have a number of people from Penn State attend, and the Huck Institutes supports it by giving us money – mainly for the invited speakers – so that we can bring people in and pay their way to come; that’s been really helpful.”

Roossinck says she’d like to hold at least one more meeting in another two years, “and then I don’t know. I may retire before another one would come up. But the next one in two years would be the twentieth anniversary and the tenth meeting, so kind of a nice finale. Maybe someone will take it over after that, we’ll see.”

Either way, though, she says this year’s meeting was “definitely a big success.”