27 June 2014

Con drop and lessons learned from Evolution/iEvoBio 2014

I'm in the midst of processing the aftermath of seven very full days of scientific conference. After almost twelve hours of sleep, I'm feeling a bit of a science hangover.  It occurs to me that this post-conference experience is not unprecedented or unfamiliar. Con drop is pretty well documented by other attendees of a variety of conferences and conventions (look here and here for a few examples), and is generally related to the let-down accompanying the return to real life following submersion in a large group of like-minded people. I don't recall seeing much discussion about post-science con drop, but it makes sense. Especially this year: I was on my home turf, seeing lots of folks I already knew and meeting lots of new people, all of us exuberant on the fumes of scientific progress. In the days following Evolution, I found myself relieved at the relaxation of my scheduled obligations but simultaneously bereft. As I slowly return to "real life," I decided to note a few of the big take-home lessons from Evolution 2014 and iEvoBio. A few other folks have written similar posts (I particularly like Rob's lessons and Jeremy Yoder's tweet synopsis).

First, my time limit for conference science-ing is six hours. I do a passable job of stifling my introverted nature for a time, but it means I need to pace myself. If I do a full morning of talks and lunch meeting, I'll have to take a break mid-afternoon and spend some time along. I'm really glad I have a tangible, quantifiable amount of time that seems to be consistently manageable for me…makes planning easier next time!

Second, I participated in two informal lunch-time gatherings: one tweet-up and one LGBTQ meeting. We tried two different models for these. For the first, we met at the registration desk and wandered elsewhere to find lunch. For the second, we had a lunchtime venue planned. Neither seemed satisfactory, as finding a place for 15+ people to eat is difficult, regardless of the amount of planning involved. I'm thinking about better ways to achieve future meetings, such as contacting conference organizers to have a room assigned. I don't know if I want to manage a formal discussion like the one I attended for AWIS at Evolution, but I like the idea of providing a venue to facilitate interactions between groups of likeminded people.

Of course, there are plenty of other things I'd like to break down in more detail, but fomenting ideas about these main topics seems sufficient navel-gazing for now.

1 comment:

PEM said...

Thanks for these thoughts on Evolution 2014. I took some of your suggestions, visited a few of your places to go after hours (never spent enough time in Raleigh while I was at NESCent) and definitely experienced both the limits of an introvert during the meeting and 'con drop' once I got back to my hotel room thursday evening. Good Luck in TX.