Category Archives: Meeting & Conference News

Meetings in Massachusetts, October 2012

Two upcoming meetings in the state of Massachusetts may be of interest to you, one of which I have already told you about.

UMass Plant Biology Graduate Program

The Plant Biology Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will be holding their 10th Annual Symposium in Plant Biology on Saturday October 6th, 2012.  This year’s focus is pertinent to readers of Cyme & Cystidium — it’s titled “War or Peace? Interactions Between Plants and Microbes“.  The symposium is free but you have to register to attend.

massmyco

MassMyco, the first regional meeting of mycologists from the state of Massachusetts, will be held on October 27th, 2012.  Registration is now open.

Argonne Soil Metagenomics Meeting, October 2012

argonne meeting header

The Argonne Soil Metagenomics Meeting is in its 4th year and this year’s meeting will be held October 3rd to 5th at the Indian Lakes Resort Conference Center, right outside of Chicago.  The meeting, like past years, will focus on all aspects of soil metagenomics.  There’s a whole lot of great speakers lined up, in fact a whole lot who are addressing fungi in soils. Meeting registration is open.

Orchid Symbioses Symposium and Workshop, Spring 2013

Those that know me know that I’ve got a thing for orchids.  From my point of view, what’s not to like: they have exceptionally diverse morphology, have complicated natural histories, have equally diverse interactions with pollinating insects, and – most important for me – are obligate mycorrhizal formers with a wide array of fungal symbionts.  I’m quite surprised we don’t have more scientists studying them.

orchid symbioses header

The journal New Phytologist has already sponsored 30 symposia on plant biology – the 31st symposium has been announced and will be focused on orchids and their interactions with mycorrhizal fungi and insects.  The goal of this meeting will be to bring together scientists studying orchids and advance the study of orchids and their symbiotic fungi and co-evolved insects.  As someone who has attended in the past, I cannot place enough emphasis on how rewarding these New Phytologist symposia have been to me.  There is plenty of time to register and apply for a travel grant.

orchid workshop header

This particular symposium will be held in conjunction with the 5th International Orchid Workshop this upcoming spring.  Both meetings will be held back to back at very close locales in Italy.

My Philosophy On Attending Scientific Meetings

I enjoy going to academic meetings and very frequently post information about upcoming meetings and symposia.  Some people have recently asked me why I put so much emphasis on meeting information on the blog and others have asked how I decide which meetings to attend, including this recent comment.  I go to meetings for many reasons – some of which I will cover here – but, specifically for me, the main reason I go to meetings is to interact with other scientists in my discipline.

I believe going to scientific meetings is a vital part of mastering how to communicate your research.  The types of communication you have the opportunity to master can range from giving an oral presentation to hundreds (or perhaps thousands!) of other scientists to speaking with someone for 30 seconds in an elevator.  Academic meetings give you an opportunity to master your communication skills.

MSA 2011 presentations

Meetings are also great places to learn about the cutting edge of your research area.  Often scientists will present their most recent findings prior to publication.  You might be able to learn about new technologies or novel ways to analyze data before you read about them in publications.  Often during the question and answer portion of talks, theories and controversial topics are discussed, with a debate in real time.  I tend to return from meetings mentally energized with lots of new ideas to investigate and think about.

Meetings are great places to network and meet people in your research area.  It’s easier to strike up a conversation or collaboration via email if you’ve met someone in person at a meeting.  Also, if you are in academia, the people you speak with at meetings will likely be the ones who are reading your grant proposals and reviewing your manuscripts.  Future job contacts and impromptu pre-interviews happen at meetings.  Most importantly, there’s the added bonus of developing friendships with your fellow scientists.

Lastly, I enjoy traveling, so going to academic meetings is a way for me to mix business with pleasure, so to speak.  I’ve gotten to see some truly beautiful places under the auspices of attending scientific meetings.

rhodes_at_dawn

If you are a student or a post-doc – or have been asked to present a talk – there may often be registration discounts for meetings and symposia.  You may be able to get a discount if you volunteer to help out at the registration desk or other planned events.  You might also be asked to provide financial need.  You should check with the meeting organizers as soon after the meeting is announced for these types of discounts.

When it comes to choosing a meeting to attend, I personally prefer smaller more intimate meetings, with a range of participants in the hundreds, and not in the thousands like you tend to find at large meetings.  Large meetings can be valuable, but I personally find that it’s more difficult to attend all the talks you want to and to locate the people you want to speak with.  I will often speak to people who have attended specific meetings in the past and ask them about their experiences in order to gauge if a meeting will be a valuable one to attend.

Before going to a conference, I usually get an idea of which talks I would like to see and who I would like to speak with at the meeting.  This can happen before I leave for a meeting if the conference booklet is posted online, but it typically happens right after I arrive at the registration desk.  Some people prepare by bringing business cards, and although I haven’t used business cards, this could help people remember you after the meeting.  You also want to prepare your “talk” – whether it’s for a speaking presentation, a poster presentation, or just speaking in the hallways or at a dinner of the meeting – you should be able to communicate your research clearly in many different formats.

During the meeting, I have different strategies depending on the meeting size and the types of talks.  I try to pick the talks that are most relevant to my interests, but sometimes this leaves me running between sessions.  This can be a great time to “bump” into someone you want to speak with, but you may also miss important talks this way too.  Sometimes, particularly at the end of meetings when my mind is overwhelmed, I sit through entire sessions just to see if there is something interesting in a disparate research area that can be applied to my research.  I’ve gotten some great ideas listening to talks I thought would not be pertinent to my research.  I take notes and make sure to write down literature to look up and read when I get home from the meeting.

After the meeting is over it’s important to follow up with those you have started collaborations with and those whose research papers you want to read.  If you’ve taken notes, review them and think about posting them to a public forum, like a blog, so that others can share in on your meeting experience.

Upcoming Mycological & Mycorrhizal Meetings 2012

Here’s three upcoming mycological meetings which may be of interest to you:

european nitrogen fixation conference 2012

As part of the 10th European Conference on Nitrogen Fixation held in Munich a satellite meeting called the 1st Molecular Mycorrhiza Meeting will be held over two days: Thursday, September 6th to Friday, September 7th.  The list of speakers is pretty amazing if (like me), mycorrhizae is your thing.  See here for registration and see here for abstract submission.

above & below-ground interactions meeting

The British Mycological Society will be having a meeting for Fungal Interactions on September 3rd to 6th, 2012, in Alicante, Spain.  The sessions look to be diversely balanced and focused on fungal interactions with all types of organisms.  See here for the preliminary meeting program and to register see here.

Finally, if you live in the New England area of North America (or don’t mind the travel) the first regional meeting of mycologists from the state of Massachusetts and the surround area will be held on October, 27th 2012.  It will be aptly named MassMyco.  The meeting will be held at Clark University and hosted by the Hibbett Lab.  I love these small regional meetings, so perhaps I’ll try to make the trek for this one.  Registration is not open yet, but check back soon.

ICOM7 – The 7th International Conference on Mycorrhiza, January 2013

ICOM7

Perhaps because I study mycorrhizae the ICOM meetings have a special place in my heart, so I’m excited to tell you that the next ICOM — the 7th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM7) — is open for registration.  The meeting will be held in New Dehli in January of 2013.  Here is the call for abstracts.  Here’s some more information from the meeting website:

The Organizing Committee cordially invites you to the 7th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM7) to be held from 6th to 11th January’ 2013 in New Delhi, the capital Republic of India. Organized by TERI under the auspices of the International Mycorrhiza Society and in collaboration with the Mycorrhiza Network, this 6 day gala event would bring the ICOM legacy to Asia for the first time.

The theme of this conference, “Mycorrhiza for all – An Under Earth Revolution” is wisely chosen so that it may prove to be the epicenter of a new revolution that our planet is in dire need of. A change that would help minimise the usage of chemical fertilizer on soil and hence leave the least environmental footprint.