Spring Research Festival Will Return with Some In-Person Events

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer
A sunflower in a graduated cylinder filled with blue liquid

Spring is upon us again, and the Spring Research Festival is following quickly on its heels. However, by both pandemic and pre-pandemic standards, this won’t be an ordinary year. It’s the festival’s first in a hybrid format.

That means for the first time since May 2019, participants will be able to attend events in person if they desire. Events will occupy both the Fort Detrick and NCI Frederick campuses.

The Spring Research Festival showcases science occurring at Fort Detrick, NCI Frederick, and the Frederick National Laboratory. The festival, sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and the Military & Health Research Foundation, will span April 25 and 26. For many attendees, it’s the only time of year to engage directly with other agencies’ scientists.

Registration is required for participants and spectators, regardless of whether they plan to attend in person or virtually. Those wishing to participate or judge one of the events have until April 5 to register. The sponsors encourage spectators to register by April 10, though spectator registration will remain open until and during the festival.

Both days of the festival will showcase a large display of scientific posters, which will be open only to in-person participants. It will conform to a standard scientific conference format: categorized galleries open for participants to view at leisure and—if the author of a poster is present—to discuss findings. Interns from various agencies will also be able to display their work.

The vendor show, a staple of the festival before the pandemic, also returns both days this year. Dozens of company representatives are expected to set up booths and scientific equipment displays in the Fort Detrick gymnasium. This event will likewise be open only to in-person participants.

Both days will also see two hybrid events. The first day will feature the keynote address. A poster blitz, a “rapid-fire” symposium that challenges scientists to explain their projects and findings in just a few minutes, will follow in the afternoon.

A young investigators symposium will be held in the morning of day two, recognizing early-career scientists and giving them a forum to share their work. The afternoon will feature a separate series of mini lectures.

The NCI Frederick auditorium in Building 549 will host the in-person presentations, while classrooms on the Fort Detrick campus will be open to spectators who want to view them virtually but in a communal setting.

The keynote speakers are Heba Mostafa, M.B.B.Ch., Ph.D., and Andrew Pekosz, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University. The topic of their talk is “Genomics and Transcriptomics of Respiratory Virus Infections.”

On Friday, April 29, the Spring Research Festival awards ceremony will cap off the events by recognizing participants with outstanding performance. It will be held in person on the Fort Detrick campus.

Face masks won’t be required at the in-person events.

Registration instructions and more information are available on the Spring Research Festival website. Questions can be directed to the Spring Research Festival administrator.


The following agencies and organizations will be among those at the festival:

  • Agricultural Research Service
  • Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
  • National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center
  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases


Samuel Lopez leads the editorial team in Scientific Publications, Graphics & Media (SPGM). He writes for newsletters; informally serves as an institutional historian; and edits scientific manuscripts, corporate documents, and sundry other written media. SPGM is the creative services department and hub for editing, illustration, graphic design, formatting, multimedia, and training in these areas.

In past years, the poster display filled rows of boards in the Fort Detrick gymnasium. (Photo from the SPGM archive) For years, the poster display was a meeting of minds and data. This year, the pandemic-era online galleries will be replaced with the return of in-person interactions. (Photo from the SPGM archive) The keynote presentation is a traditional favorite, always drawing a large crowd. (Photo from the SPGM archive) The festival is also a crucial forum for young scientists to present their research. (Photo from the SPGM archive) The vendor show, a staple of the festival before the pandemic, brought together vendors, agencies, and attendees for an equipment exposition and opportunity to meet one another. (Photo from the SPGM archive)