A first time for everything

This is the 6th time that I am attending the EGU and yesterday I managed for the first time to be busy the entire day with meetings and actually not listening to any presentation or looking at any poster. That’s what scientists normally do most of the time at conferences. Listening to other scientists presenting their studies. The EGU is thematically subdivided into 22  divisions. I am usually jumping around between sessions of Atmospheric Sciences, Biogeosciences and Soil System Sciences. This is enough to bring your calendar to explode because normally one ends up with at least three different sessions running at the same time, and of course, at opposite ends of a four-storey building. However at the EGU, it does not stop there. For me it is THE PLACE for networking and there are loads of additional sessions dealing exactly just with that.

First of all, there are so-called non-public splinter meetings. You want to sit down with scientists from other universities and work on something? You can book a meeting room at the EGU. Yesterday morning we were seven people sitting together for one and a half hour working on drafts for scientific papers from a measurement campaign. These meetings can also be organized as public meetings for networking in the scientific community (e.g. “Ideas and perspectives for future research on forests and the CH4 and N2O cycles” organized by Mari Pihlatie from Helsinki) and it is also possible to contribute actively to shaping the programme of the EGU General Assembly in 2018 by joining the subdivision meetings (e.g. Subdivision SSS4: Soil Biology, Microbiology and Biodiversity). If you are a young scientist, go to these meetings! It is a great way to increase your visibility in the research community. In addition to the scientific and administrative sessions and meetings, there is also a huge exhibition with companies presenting their scientific instruments. These companies are keen on getting to know our research interests and needs to design new product lines. In the best case, it is a win-win situation for both sides. I had a meeting with a LI-COR Biosciences representative to discuss what I like about the currently availabe suit of gas analyzers and what improvements and new developments I am looking for to use in future measurement campaigns. And of course at the end of the day, I had to present my poster.

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Poster presentations at the EGU can be a bit daunting and overwhelming for both the presenters and the audience. There are huge halls where you have nothing but posters. “That poster abstract sounds interesting, but do I want to walk another kilometer today to find it? Brain, are you still capable of taking in new information?”.

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And thus it can happen that you have invested a lot of time in preparing a nice poster and you are at a conference with over 10.000 scientists, but maybe only two or three actually stop at your poster and maybe one asks you a question. Yesterday, I had the best poster session at the EGU ever! I love my research topic and think it is absolutely awesome and cool. What a feeling when other people come to you and have the same opinion. As it turned out, my boss did a great job in advertising my poster during her talk in the morning. A lot of people came and said “I heard this talk in the morning, can you explain me more about this and that”. One and a half hours of author’s attendance time (the time you actually should stand next to your poster to answer questions) were just flying by and I stopped counting to how many people I spoke during that time. Yes, fresh motivational boost for the upcoming work!

To finish the day, I went to listening to a talk by Pete Smith. For all of you soil scientists out there, yes, THE Pete Smith. Yesterday, he received the Philippe Duchaufour Medal for his outstanding contribution to the field of soil science and this guy is just an awesome presenter. The title of his lecture might give a hint (“Soil science is way more fun than a proper job”). You should really have a look at his abstract. And don’t get back to the first sentence of this blog post. This didn’t count as listening to a presentation. That was relaxing after work.

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