AGU 2016

(Written by our newest PhD, Michael Grappone)

Even though it is only my third month as a PhD student in the lab, I just had the opportunity to attend the 2016 American Geophysical Union conference.  The Duncan Norman Research Scholarship generously provided funding for the flight to the conference (and then home) from England, since the United States is my home country.  I didn’t have a presentation or a poster, so before coming, I had to plan the optimal strategy to lurk and get a feel the conference.  Oh and plan my networking; lots of networking within the paleomagnetics community.

I attended the student pre-session conference, which was aimed at giving us the tools needed both for the workplace and to interact with the scientific community; basically, networking and effective communication.  We had a great activity on the nexus of water, energy, and the environment in a small group.  Like in real life, there was no clear answer and we decided on a portfolio of ideas combining multiple strategies, including 1 dam (partnered with a Native American tribe), a few delocalized dams, and solar panel installations.

The second day of AGU (the first day of presentations) started with the Geosciences Workforce Workshop.  8 panelists representing 8 different paths a geoscience PhD could take you spoke to us and then joined us for roundtable discussions over lunch.  The bad winter weather in the Midwest meant that many potential attendees had not arrived yet, so our roundtable discussions consisted of 2 students and a panelist.  It was great to be able to talk so intimately about each possible path.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were all focused on paleomagnetics, which was also the reason I came.   I saw a few people from the Caltech group, as well as from MIT, Cambridge, University of Hawaii, and UC Berkeley.  Between the posters, presentations and the RAPID consortium lunch, I almost had a geomagnetics overload.  Who am I kidding?  It was great.

Friday had some of the best presentations, in my opinion.  They had a very informative session on magnetic methods as applied to chronology.  After lunch was my favorite session: Up-Goer Five.  Each researcher gave a 6-8 minute presentation on their topic of research using only the “ten hundred” most common words in English.  Did you know that “rain hot cold change” affects the “big blue water”?  On the same point, the last presentation’s title was “Many people agreeing that something is true is not the same thing as people who spend their life studying something (who speak the same way and agree about what makes something true) agreeing that something is true!”  It’s a long title, but a very important one.

I’m going to ask if for the EAO DTP Summer Conference we can do Up-Goer Five presentations instead of 3-minute thesis because these were a lot of fun and a great exercise for the presenters.

I give AGU 5 out of 5 and am looking forward to New Orleans next year.

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