Small Scientist, Big Conference: First Timer Looking for Advice

Before you get too far into this post I have a confession to make:

I have never been to a conference.

I’ve been to a few poster sessions held by my small liberal arts college and one regional meeting, but I have never attended a big scientific meeting.

I’m an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, and in three days I’ll roll up my poster, put on my flip-flop, and fly across the country to San Diego to attend my very first scientific meeting. Luckily, in this tech savvy era I have resources. So I’m blogging about my adventure to California and attempting to bring as many wiser and more worldly scientists as possible along with me.

That’s where you come in.

I want to know what you want to see.

  •        Which new and notable has you the most excited?
  •        Which subgroups, platforms, and symposia will be the best?
  •        Who presents the nicest posters?

Leave a comment and let me know. If more than one person recommends it, I’ll go, and I’ll blog all about it.


2 thoughts on “Small Scientist, Big Conference: First Timer Looking for Advice

  1. straddlingworlds

    Hi Sophialevan, welcome to BPS! Well, you surely picked a big conference as a first one. BPS was my first big conference a few years ago and for SURE you have to work out your itinerary before you leave. Kind of tough now, being the 23rd, but it will help you out tons. You will quickly be overwhelmed at the wide range of topics and massively parallel sessions. You can find the itinerary planner here:
    When you’re at the conference you will be overwhelmed and your brain will hurt by the end of the first day. That’s totally normal, it doesn’t mean that you’re an idiot and don’t belong in grad school. It’s the fact that you’re just starting. You will not likely understand most of the talks that you attend and it’s not your fault. Part of the problem comes from the presenter. In an ideal world, they would aim to explain their research to everyone in the audience. Not everyone is an expert on their technique or field, but may be attending the lecture, and so ideally the presentation should be at a level they can understand. In reality, though, many presentations aren’t like this. As well in your case, you’re just starting out and so you’ve got loads to learn. That’s a good thing! You’ll see that as you continue in your grad school education, you will come to understand more talks, that’s fun because if you pay attention to it, then you will see how far you will have come since your first conference this week.

    In short, two recommendations: 1) make a tentative itinerary, it will help you stay organized. 2) go see some presentations that sound interesting, but that you have no idea what they’re about – this way you’re sure to learn something new!


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