OUWB professors to host anatomy education research ‘unconference’


Courtesy of OUWB

OUWB assistant professors Stefanie Attardi and Victoria Roach will launch an “unconference” in June to discuss and collaborate on anatomy education research.

Lauren Reid, Content Editor

This spring, two Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) assistant professors Stephanie Attardi and Victoria Roach will launch an “unconference” focusing on anatomy education research.

Scheduled for Saturday, June 6 in Toronto, the event is geared toward anyone interested in multiple fields, including but not limited to medicine, nursing and physical therapy. 

The idea behind the “unconference” is to create a collaborative, casual environment ideal for feedback rather than a standard conference that focuses on completed research. The unconference allows for effective collaboration and discussion in a non-intimidating setting, where participants can bring research that is in progress or its early stages. 

“We’ve found that the most productive aspects of a conference take place outside of the sessions — in the hallways and during the coffee breaks,” Roach said. “We thought it would be great if there was a whole conference devoted to the informal, idea-generating, networking environment that flows out of the traditional conference setting.” 

Working with their colleagues, Kristina Lisk and Danielle Bentley of the University of Toronto, Attardi and Roach began planning the event. 

The agenda includes a keynote address from Dr. Nicole Woods who will “set the pace for the day,” according to Roach. Following will be breakout sessions and various consultations, where participants will receive “logistical and methodological feedback” on their respective endeavors.

Participating researchers can develop rigorous studies and knowledge, which in turn will improve anatomy education for students, according to Attardi. 

A unique aspect of the unconference is breakout room content will be voted on by participants the day of, allowing for topics to be relevant and interesting. Participants can then informally move around throughout the day and take in a plethora of new information. 

“I’m excited for some lively discussions and debates,” Attardi said. “I’m hoping that the informal setting [where everyone is on the same level] will allow for respectful and intriguing discussion about various approaches. I think it will be productive — I’m excited to see it play out.” 

Since there is no traditional stage with a speaker all day, Attardi hopes participants will feel comfortable enough to vocalize their ideas. The day will conclude with Harvard Macy Institute Step Back Consultations, which is an emerging model used to gather group feedback.

According to Roach, this unconference is the first to be aimed at an international audience. In the past, events like this have been small and local, but this event will hopefully attract participants from various communities. 

Attardi said the organizers want participants to “leave at the end of the day with a more rigorous study design that they are going to pursue.” 

Capped at 45 attendees, this event requires an application to ensure participants are serious about the field. There is no cost to attend the unconference and students at any level are welcome, enabling them to network and expand their knowledge. For more information on event specifics or to submit an application, visit the conference website