Thursday, September 12, 2013
I recently attended the 2013 Goldschmidt conference in
Florence Italy. This is the largest geochemistry conference
in the world. It migrates between Europe
and North America every year, with occasional
forays into the Asia-Pacific region. It
is a big conference, with attendance in the mid thousands.
Unlike workshops, symposia, and little topical conferences, big conferences serve more as social and professional networking events than scientific problem solving sessions.
Senior scientists present the direction of their big projects.
Grad students show what they are capable of.
Junior scientists make sure they get widely known enough to pass their tenure review.
For young scientists looking for their next career move, it is important to meet people in their field. Having been asked for advice on this topic, I thought I’d present the basics:
It is important to match those names that block out half a page of your thesis references with a face. These people will probably evaluate your proposals, work with you or your colleagues, and review your papers.
The best way to do this is just to introduce yourself.
Try not to be nervous. Or at least strive to be nervous gracefully. And if you are nervous, don’t cover it up by trying too hard to show how smart you are.
The basic point is that if you see the name of a paper you like on a nametag, say hello. Let the person know you liked their work. There are very few scientists who don’t like being told that their research is interesting and useful. Tell them you’re basing your work on theirs, and you’ll have them at “citation”