Well, the conference is over. I’m still in Seattle; we have a couple of days to explore and do some sampling, which will be a nice little break after GSA, which was great, but tiring. I mostly went to talks about Precambrian oxygen, nutrient cycling, geobio, etc., and it was great that there was such a strong interest in the field.
I also co-chaired a session on advances in paleosol-based proxies, which was a cool experience. We got a good turnout despite being in the basement of the building across the street from the main conference center, and we also hosted the winner of the GSA President’s Medal, and a leader in all things paleosol: Thure Cerling. Meeting him was cool (he’s very nice and down-to-earth despite spawning most of the research in the session in one way or another). We heard from a lot of younger scientists too, and it’s exciting to see the directions the field is headed in.
I had to scurry out of that session to give my first ever conference talk(!), which was about my work on paleosols in India at the K-Pg and the paleoclimate reconstruction I did. My heart was pounding (the room was packed), but it went well and I had some good discussions with people a little later.
It’s been interesting to see how different conference experiences as I move through grad school. My first conference was GSA a few years ago; I wasn’t presenting, so I was just there to learn stuff and meet people. It was fun and marginally useful, but my second conference (AGU last year) was orders of magnitude more useful and directly beneficial because I was presenting my own work. I think giving a talk is great for exposure and for practice communicating your work clearly and well, but having a poster lends itself to more conversation, I think. By far, this GSA has been the most productive; now that I know my research path much better, I was able to be more focused in the sessions I attended and glean more useful information from the talks and posters I did see. I’m more amped and excited about my own work after seeing how it fits into what everyone else is working on, and how excited other people are about this stuff.
So my time here has been productive and useful, but somewhat exhausting. I’m looking forward to some hiking and time spent not talking about science 24/7. Then it’s on to prelims prep, paper writing, and making some progress in the lab so I have cool stuff to present at the Gordon conference in January!
Baby grad student’s first talk!