Archive for the ‘conferences’ Category

San Jose

I’ll be heading to San Jose, California, for a conference in the near future. If you’re in the area, let me know, and maybe we can do a meet-up! Any tips on what to see or do if I have some free time?

Link Round-Up

I am really starting to like the idea of doing a weekly round-up of some of the more interesting things I come across. There are so many things I’d like to share, but don’t want to do an individual post for each thing (I do on Facebook/Twitter, but not all my wonderful readers are on them). Not sure if this will be a regular thing, but we’ll see.
Here is what caught my eye this week:
On Thursday, I went to a psychology lecture at the local library, and it was all about how our brains develop in relation to our experiences and environment. The speaker was asked a question about those “brain workouts” we see advertised on TV, and he highly suggested reading up on Adrian Owen’s work on the subject, which was published in Nature last year. (Short answer: no, they don’t work.)
How do you feel about a Somoa airline charging passengers by weight? Though this seems like a “logical” thing to do (this is what’s done for mission to space, for example), the idea clearly has some downfalls.

If you’ve been following what’s going on with government-funded scientists here in Canada, you’ll be interested to know that there will be a formal probe into the muzzling of government scientists. Let’s hope this pours some light on the subject!

Here’s a great post about how to put together a better conference talk by Emily Lakdawalla. It helped me have an epiphany this week: if I feel stupid during your talk (and I have a relatively decent background in the topic), it’s not because of my lack of knowledge, it’s because of your lack of explanation.

PBS’s NOVA did a great special about the recent meteor strike in Russia. Two researchers from my university are interviewed throughout the piece. Beware of some sensationalism though (like “Death rocks from space!!!”). Those outside the USA might not be able to view the above video, so here it is on YouTube.

Finally, a really cool DYI project for your kids!

What are your “must reads” of the week?

Sucking at networking (and that’s okay)

One thing I learned about myself at the conference last week is that I absolutely stink at networking in person. Seriously. Worse networker ever.* I cannot go up to groups of people (large or small) and weasel my way into the conversation. I can try to convince myself to do it all day long, but it’s just not going to happen.
That being said, I am okay with going up to people who are also on their own. Maybe it’s because they’re not as threatening, or maybe I feel “in tune” with them more. Regardless, I can do that all day long and feel fine. I’m also very good with carrying on a conversation with people who approach me.
I’m not a huge fan of going to social events at conferences. I do try to stretch myself and go to a couple, but there’s no way I’d force myself to go to all of them. In this case, there were four, so I went to two. That’s pretty good in my books. 
I think my networking suckage was exaggerated by the fact that I did not know one person at this conference going in. It also didn’t help that it seemed that everyone else at the conference has known each other for a lifetime.**
In the end, though, I’ve decided it’s not something I need to work on and/or worry about too much. After all, this is who I am and I’m okay with that. I know it takes a lot of energy out of me to interact with others. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it (I do outreach for a living!) – it just means I need time to recover before heading back in. Plus, I still get lots of great ideas and contact information of people who would be good collaborators or otherwise – and, for me, that’s really the point of conferences.

It’s nice to be happy with the way I am.

If this sounds like you – or someone you know – I would recommend the book The Introvert Advantage. I also have Quiet in my to-read pile, another book written about and for introverts.
*I’m not looking for any advice on how to become a better networker here – I know all the things I’m “supposed” to do. I’ve read the articles and books – it’s just not in my nature.
**And before you say it’s in my head, the vast majority of the speakers were introduced by saying “and you all know this person, so they need no introduction **insert inside joke here**” followed by laughter of 95% of the audience. I actually wrote about this in the feedback survey because it was so common.

Unique Conference Experiences?

I’m on the organizing committee for a science education conference that we’ll be hosting next July. We hosted the first one last summer, and it was a big success.
One of our goals is to be different from the typical scientific conference. For example, we have lots of time set aside for discussion within each session, we have workshops and 30 minute presentation times, all meals are provided and everyone eats together, and we try to bring fun and humor into the mix when we can.
There are a couple of regular conference events that we’d like to make a bit more interesting:
1. Welcome reception
Most conferences have a welcoming reception where people stand around eating finger foods and drinking wine. We’d like to have some sort of an ice-breaker activity in addition to this. Ideas that came up were things like geocaching or a building competition.
2. Banquet
Last time, we had a great speaker at the banquet. It was nice, but very “status quo”. We’re trying to think of some sort of entertainment we could bring in. Ideas for this that were thrown around were a stand-up comic (who talks about science, of course), a rock/jazz band, Cirque du Soleil (might be a bit over our budget, but an idea nonetheless).
Have you seen something cool done at another conference that might work, or do you have any ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Never Easier?

I’m sitting at the Chicago airport, waiting for my connection down to Tucson for a conference on science education.
I miss Evan and DH already. In fact, I missed them the moment I walked out the door at 5am this morning. Every time I travel for a conference or otherwise, and have to be away from them, my heart just breaks.
Will it ever get easier to go away?
Luckily, I still am able to take full advantage of the alone time!

Some Ah-Hah Moments

I had several epiphanies at the conference last week:

1. The people were really nice, welcoming, and including. I wonder if I would still be doing science if I did my PhD in a different field (some of my issues during my PhD were people -related).

2. That being said, discovering the education & outreach community felt like going home. They are definitely my people.

3. I learned more from, and was more interested in, talks not having to do with my PhD research (perhaps another clue I did the wrong thing?).

4. I find it really hard just to go up and talk to someone I don’t know. But, if someone comes up to me, I can talk it up with the best of them.

5. Hosting a booth was great to talk to people, have as a meeting place, a quiet place during the day to check email, and to use as storage. Plus, it actually saved us money because the cost (which included two registrations) was cheaper than two regular-member registrations.

6. I forgot how long conference days are! Usually, I was at the conference from 8:30am to 9pm.

7. I’m definitely no longer 22. Not only did I look forward to going back to the hotel each night, I also didn’t feel guilty about it whatsoever.

8. Coming home is the best part of any trip.

33 & Leavin’

Today I turn 33…not sure how it happened, but it did and I’m happier and more secure in myself than I ever have been. The 30s are the best!

And do you know how I’m celebrating? I’m taking the afternoon off to…

…go grocery shopping, do laundry, and get to bed as early as I can because I have to wake up at 4:30am to head out to a conference in Houston 😛

I’ll fully admit that I’m not excited at all to be going to a conference. Mostly because I don’t want to be away from DH and Evan for six days.

But, to try and look on the positive side, I’ve never been to Houston so hopefully I can see some of the sites. I’ve also never been to this conference, so hopefully it will be interesting. There is a full-day outreach workshop on Sunday, which is why I’m heading down a bit early, and that should be good.

I have a few short posts scheduled for next week, but I probably won’t be around much, so have a good one!

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: