Spring Research Festival Returns This Week, but There’s Still Time to Register

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer; image courtesy of the Spring Research Festival team
Spring Research Festival logo: a sunflower in a graduated cylinder filled with blue liquid

Spring has arrived in Frederick, and with it comes a beloved scientific tradition: the Spring Research Festival.

Now in its 25th year, the festival brings together scientists, students, support staff, and spectators from across Fort Detrick, NCI at Frederick, and the larger Frederick community. Participants can expect two days of scientific excellence packed with posters and presentations that showcase the biological and biomedical research taking place within the gates of Fort Detrick and at the Advanced Technology Research Facility.

The festival will be held April 27 and 28. Travel won’t be required for participation, as the event will be entirely virtual. Guests and spectators can still register this week and during the event.

Bill of Fare

The festival’s first day begins with the traditional Poster Display, before launching into a keynote presentation from Alvin Smith, Ph.D., of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The presentations continue in the afternoon with the fast-paced Poster Blitz, a judged event that challenges scientists to clearly explain their research poster in less than five minutes. The Young Investigator Symposium, another judged event that spotlights early-career scientists and their projects, rounds out the day.

Day two picks up with the Poster Display and a keynote presentation from Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. The entire afternoon is dedicated to the Collaborative Research Opportunity Showcase, which features lectures on research conducted by scientists at National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research agencies. All of the featured projects will be open to partnerships from new collaborators.

As in past years, the Poster Display will be open all day both days. Spectators and participants will be able to view the gallery of posters on the Spring Research Festival’s digital platform, and judges will score each poster on several criteria. Those with the highest scores will be recognized with awards after the event, along with the top-scoring presenters from day one’s Blitz and Symposium.

The Spring Research Festival is co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and the Military & Health Research Foundation. NCI at Frederick and other organizations within the gates of Fort Detrick have been long-time supporters and facilitators, and NCI at Frederick is helping to plan and coordinate the event again this year.

Getting Involved

Participants and spectators can register on the Spring Research Festival website. Information on how to participate is also available on the site.


Wednesday, April 27

Poster Display
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Keynote: Alvin Smith, Ph.D. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) “Considerations for Backward Planetary Protection in Mars Sample Return Planning: Biological Safety from Flight to Facilities”
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Poster Blitz
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Young Investigator Symposium
2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.


Thursday, April 28

Poster Display
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Keynote: Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D. (Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA) “Advancing the Development of Cell and Gene Therapies”
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Collaborative Research Opportunity Showcase
12 p.m. – 4 p.m.


Samuel Lopez is a technical editor in Scientific Publications, Graphics & Media (SPGM), where he writes for NCI at Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory’s news outlets; manages the day-to-day operations of the Poster newsletter; informally serves as an institutional historian; and edits scientific manuscripts, corporate documentation, and a slew of other written media. SPGM is the facilities’ creative services department and hub for editing, illustration, graphic design, formatting, and multimedia training and support.