A summer camp for scientists!

Aug 08, 2018 No Comments by 460 views

Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend the 2018 Gordon Ocean Global Change Biology conference (held in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire) as an EAG ambassador. Gordon conferences are considered ‘Summer Camps for Scientists”, and I couldn’t think of a better description!

As I am nearing the end of my PhD, I was eager to attend this conference to meet previous colleagues, as well as to hopefully meet new future collaborators and to present my PhD research. The Ocean Global Change Biology conference gave me everything I could hope for. Not only did I get the chance to meet and talk to many scientists that I frequently cite, but also got to see the most frontier research happening in the field, providing me with a lot of inspiration for my current and future research.

The accommodation at Waterville Valley Conference Centre

The conference was held in a small resort town surrounded by forested mountains, and pretty much everything was done together. The small size (just over 100 attendees) and inclusiveness of such a conference means that you quickly become comfortable with each other and get to have both scientific and informal discussions with almost everyone at the conference. A highlight of the conference was getting to sit beside some of my scientific heroes at meal times, discussing new work and being invited to visit their labs.

Organised group hike

Talks were scheduled in the mornings and evenings, but they also allocated free-time in the afternoons. This free time allowed everyone to explore the beautiful forests surrounding Waterville Valley and gave an additional informal setting to socialize with fellow researchers. This free time was occupied by group hikes, canoeing and the slightly frightening mountain biking. There’s nothing quite like hurtling yourself down a rocky, forested mountain trail on a bike for the first time in your life, relying on the other researchers to help you if something goes wrong, and wondering whether your travel insurance would cover such an accident. Although it often felt like I was on holiday, the many notes, business cards and email addresses that now fill up my notebook do confirm that this conference was incredibly fruitful.

Mountain biking in Waterville Valley with other conference attendees

A good measure of the success of this conference could be made from the noise on the bus rides: on the way to the conference center the buses were silent and everyone had their laptops out, on the way back, conversations were endless and you had to shout to be able to talk to the person next to you.  This ‘Summer Camp for Scientists” was a highlight of my PhD, if you do find such a conference to attend, make the most of it, socialize, network, and enjoy the chance to talk freely with some of the top early and senior scientists in your field.

 

About the author:

Rebecca James is 3.5 years into her PhD at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). She has been combining geochemistry, macrophyte physiology and ecology to study shallow bays of the Caribbean. The overall aim of her research is to discover how these important ecosystems will be affected by lowering pH, rising temperature and sea-level rise.

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