In defence of taxon-specific conferences

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I have been going to entomology meetings (including those of the Entomological Societies of Canada (ESC), British Columbia (ESBC), and Ontario (ESO)) yearly since I started studying spiders in 2010 (we don’t have an arachnological society in Canada, so for these societies spiders are welcomed as honorary insects) and I went to my first International Society of Arachnology (ISA) meeting in Colorado this past summer. Continue reading

A student-centered academic conference

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The national SACNAS conference came through LA again. SACNAS is an organization that fosters diversity in higher education and runs a huge national conference each year. The organization does other things, but the national conference is clearly a focal point.

SACNAS has been described as a “mentoring conference.” From what I’ve seen, that’s a good description. Continue reading

Can on-line networking replace the traditional kind?

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A few weeks ago Terry wrote about going to conferences, networking and social capital. The post struck home for me for a couple of reasons. First, I agree wholeheartedly with the diffuse benefits that come from interacting with people at conferences. I’ve made friends, started collaborations, been invited to give departmental seminars and gotten paper invitations, all of which I am sure wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t given a talk and talked to people at conferences. Of course, there are challenges to these intense social and scientific interactions too (e.g. the conference hangover) but conferences are a really important part of developing your scientific career. Continue reading

Who you know really matters

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People say that it can be important to go to conferences once in a while because “networking” is important.

I wouldn’t put it that way. I would say that, for junior scientists, attending a conference regularly is critical because knowing people in your field is necessary for academic success. This is particularly true if you don’t have prestigious connections.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It’s a cliché, but it’s one I’ve seen affirmed time and again. Continue reading

Live tweeting at academic conferences: time to move on?

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Conf Tweet Pic 2Guest post by Ian Lunt.

In popular culture, peak beard has been defined as the point in time when the rate of beard destruction exceeds the rate of beard production. By extension, peak tweet can be defined as the time when the rate of tweet production far exceeds the rate of potential consumption.

In 2015, a sizable ecology conference exceeded peak tweet. Attendees live-tweeted far more messages than readers could feasibly find or read. Which creates a quandary we haven’t before had to face:

Now that live-tweeting has mainstreamed, how can we increase the utility of conference tweeting to improve outreach?

Continue reading