Ocean Sciences 2016

Hey y’all, I’m back!

I discovered that, despite all the ideas for blog posts bouncing around in my head, it is much harder to write them when you’re busy writing other things.


I’ll post an update later of what I’ve been doing for the past several months, but for now I wanted to get down some thoughts about the most recent Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) in New Orleans.  OSM is held every other year, typically in the US in February for everything oceanography or overlapping in some way with oceanography.  This is my third time attending, having already gone to the OSM in Salt Lake City, UT, and Hawaii (!).  It’s a relatively large meeting, with about 4,000 attendees expected this year – although, it has nothing on Fall AGU, which comes in at about 25,000 attendees.

Ocean Sciences 2016 Plenary
Getting ready for the Plenary sessions

In no particular order, here are some of my reactions to this year’s meeting:

Twitter.  This was my first meeting as a semi-established twitter user.  I had fun live-tweeting some of the plenary sessions, and interacting with other scientists and attendees.  A few times I was recognized as, ‘oh, you’re that one from twitter’.  Highly entertaining!  It was a neat way to make connections with others interested in sharing their science lives and experiences.

Fiamma Straneo
AGU awardee giving an amazing talk on ocean-glacier interactions in Greenland

Got a talk!  I was super excited to get my first talk at an OSM.  Although, I was wishing for a day or two before that I had a poster, as that’s less stressful to me (at least during the meeting).  But, I totally crushed my talk!  And I included a humorous plug for hiring me as a postdoc.  We’ll see how that one pans out.

Weird scheduling.  The schedule at this meeting made no sense to me.  Almost everything I was interested in was only on the last two days.  There were a few talks I wanted to make it to but never did.  Not sure if it was just my bad luck this year, or the organizers didn’t think it through the whole way.  Hopefully the next OSM will work out better.

Too stressed.  I felt I was too stressed overall to take full advantage of this meeting.  Normally, I’m pretty good about attending lots of events and not being burnt out.  But I was mentally preparing for both my talk, and a job interview I agreed to do on one of the conference days.  I ended up feeling confused, and that I was missing important things but couldn’t figure out how to get to them.  I also needed to spend most of my evenings and lunches recovering, and wasn’t able to make the social leaps to hang out with new and old friends.  As a result, I’ve decided I’m not even going to apply for any more meetings until I defend my PhD.  It’s at the point where adding extra, potentially career-boosting, things will probably just backfire and not help me at all.

Beautiful park in uptown NOLA

Mentor program.  Lately I’ve begun to realize more and more the value of having a mentor or participating in mentoring sessions.  There were a few options for this meeting – one was a week-long affair, where you met for an hour or two every day with the same mentor to establish a relationship.  No way I had time for that.  Instead, I signed up for a 20 minute session with a mentor of my choice (chosen from a list).  I went with someone who has experience applying for and making decisions on a fellowship I am interested in applying for in a year or two.  It was very insightful, and I ended up with an excellent connection who can answer future questions I may have as well.

TOS couches.  I’m currently running for the student representative position on The Oceaongraphy Society (TOS)’s council.  I spent a good bit of time at their exhibit, talking about twitter and what they can do for student members.  And they had the most marvelous couches!  Totally made my day to be able to relax in the middle of all the craziness and stress.

Yummy NOLA food – no deep-fried touristy places for me

New Orleans.  Well.  I didn’t like it.  Hah.  It was more that my personality and NOLA’s did not really get along, especially the French Quarter vibe.  I’m too much a fan of structure, logic, tea (not alcohol), and early mornings for that style to resonate with me.  That said, the uptown area was beautiful, green, and spacious.  Although I can’t imagine being able to appreciate any of it mid-summer – it was already too hot for me on one day in February!

Want more details about the meeting?  Highlights from tweets are here, or check out #OSM16 on twitter.

Science in Prague: Part 2

I’m sitting in a restaurant, after finishing my last meal in Prague and reflecting on my time here.

The conference: Despite some early issues with organizing and unclear directions, not to mention last decisions, everything went really well. I was impressed by the quality of science and the scientists who presented their work. At times, I felt a bit lost among the geologists and couldn’t find anyone familiar. However, a conference of that size and scope also means there are often small and unique sessions, such as mathematics in earth science, or data science and analytics, that I was very interested in. For the most part, I stuck with oceanography, attending sessions on the southern ocean and ocean mixing, with the occasional foray into something a bit different. I have several notebook pages full of people to contact or papers to look up once I get back to my office.

Looking down on the poster session

Prague: I’ve also been reflecting a bit on my time in the city. I’ve decided that while I’m still not a fan of cities, this one isn’t too bad. The castles here are quite interesting, even though the prevalence of stone wears on the feet after a few days. It’s still too crowded for me. The streets are filled with tourists in the popular parts, the buildings are extremely close together, and it all got a bit repetitive after awhile. Despite that, I  still really enjoyed myself, which brings me to my final point.

Me: This trip ended up being a good lesson on how to be on my own. The first day or two, plus these last days on my own have been one of the few times I’ve had nothing to consult but my own wishes. In any normal situation I can find a reason for a decision that makes either my life easier, or someone else’s. Here, it was often only about what I wanted at the moment. Now that I’m at the end of my time here, I have to say that I feel more comfortable with myself and being by myself. It’s an unexpected, but welcome outcome.

Now, the real trick is remembering the excitement from the conference and translating that back to everyday work life to get more accomplished.

Science in Prague: Part 1

Greetings from Prague! After suffering from jetlag, rushing to hang up my poster, and bewailing my temperamental phone camera, I’ve finally settled in.

Waiting for my flight across the pond

I’m participating in IUGG2015, which stands for International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, which probably isn’t any clearer than the acronym. In essence, it’s a very large international organization where the members are countries, and the topics are any sort of earth science, from oceanography to atmospherics to earthquakes and so forth.

Learning about atmospheric chemistry

So far it’s been an interesting experience for me. This isn’t a typical conference my research group goes to, but I jumped at the chance to attend as I was accepted to co-convene a session on ocean and ice shelves. I’ve been able to meet a fair amount of people I’ve heard of before, and that’s exciting. On the flip side, the first day or two I was at a loss to find anyone I knew, and spent a few meals on my own. People watching and the Prague landscape made up for the lack of companions.

View from the conference center

In the first two days I was here, I managed to navigate the public transportation system well enough to make it out of the airport, correctly pronounced 4 names (out of 4) in my session, and presented my poster. Now I can sit back, learn about other science, and enjoy my stay in the city.

I’ll be back later with more updates, or follow along with me on Twitter or Instagram (mnemoniko on both) for more consistent updates.