Friday, 21 August 2009

pre-conference homework

Having read more than one comment on Female Science Professor’s blog about students who failed to recognize the name of an important scientist in their field when meeting them at a conference, I decided that in addition to preparing a poster summarizing some of my recent research to present at a conference I’ll be attending later this month, I should also have an advance list at the list of delegates who are attending the conference, since the conference web page was nice enough to include one.

Comparing that list with the (Endnote) list of papers I’ve read in the course of my research reveals 10 names of people whose work I’ve consulted who will be attending the same conference as I. I now have a list of those names, and which papers of theirs I’ve got, so I can glance at them again between now and the start of the conference and be reminded of what sort of topics they research. With luck, being familiar with their work will give me topic(s) of conversation should I actually meet them in person, which will be one way to prevent shyness from keeping me in a corner not speaking to anyone. (Mine is the sort of shyness which only manifests itself if I think I don’t know anyone present.)

In the course of compiling this list there were a few people whose addresses in the program do not match the address on the paper I’ve got, so for those people I checked their department web page to see if it listed their publications or research interests, to make certain that the name of the attendee is, in fact, the same person who wrote the paper. This task was worth doing, as I found one where it turns out to be someone with the same name, but different research interests, and another where the list of the things she likes to research is very similar to my own. Therefore she might be an interesting person to speak with about her research.

If I find myself with the time/energy between now and the start of the conference, I may also go through the program looking for interesting sounding talks, not only to mark the ones I don’t wish to miss, but also to see if those authors have papers published which I’d also like to read, but haven’t seen yet. Not that I need more papers, the list of things in my “to read” pile will keep me doing my 1000 words a day of reading for a long time yet.

(Note: for those of you keeping track of such things, I’ve finally settled in to my new location sufficiently that my 1000 a day is, once again, a habit. 17 days in a row, and counting. It isn’t much, yet, but it is a start. Perhaps I might even start blogging regularly again.)

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