Friday, November 03, 2006

Conference Junkie

I really like going to conferences. I like giant ones with thousands of scientists, and I like small specialized conferences on a focused topic. To be systematic about it, my conference likes and dislikes include:

LIKES (in no particular order)

1 - Watching my current and former students and postdocs give presentations. At the most recent conference I attended, 2 of my students gave truly outstanding talks. There are few academic experiences more exciting than this.
2 - Seeing lots of friends from the various stages of my academic career.
3 - Talking in person to colleagues I don't see very often.
4 - Giving talks about my research. I am particularly excited about one of my current research projects, and it was very fun to give a talk on this recently.
5 - Meeting new people and learning new things.
6 - Exploring other cities/regions.

DISLIKES (in no particular order)

1 - Having people assume that I am a student or that my research is someone else's project or idea. Now that I've been around and semi-visible for a while, the former seldom happens, but the latter still does. Example: At the most recent meeting, I had a conversation with 2 colleagues about the research project that was the subject of my talk. One of these men, whom I will call Y, has a tendency to work on the same thing I do, after I have already started a project [I have written about this before]. Today I got an email from the other man, saying he would like to learn more about the research that "you and Y" are doing. Correction: This is my research idea and my initial results. Y will no doubt work on this soon, if he isn't already working on it, but the chances of my working with him are less than zero.

2 - Going to professional/social functions dominated by senior men who only talk to each other.

3 - Encountering people who are unhappy because I rejected their paper(s) (in my role as an Editor of a journal).

At a recent conferece, I cashed in on a bet that a colleague and I made in 1996. We agreed that in 2006 at a major annual meeting, whoever lost the bet would take the other out for a very nice dinner. I totally won this bet, and I had a very fun evening collecting on it recently. The bet was that I would regret leaving University 1 for University 2. I do not regret this move. In fact, this colleague, who has himself left University 1 now, conceded defeat long ago, maybe even in 1998, but we agreed to keep to the original agreement about the collection date.


~profgrrrrl~ said...

Do people actually come up to you and complain about rejected articles? That just seems so ... unnecessary.

Ms.PhD said...

That is SO sweet, it makes me want to cry when you say how much you love giving talks and hearing your students and former students give talks.

I really look forward to the day when I can do that.

Alas, I am still only giving posters at meetings, and I hate giving posters. So I cannot yet share your love of conferences. For me it is very much hit or miss.