Conference!

I attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists and am still recovering from the craziness of it all.

Scientifically, the meeting didn’t have a ton relevant to what I do, but I did have a chance to put Ian2.8 through paces and I think performed pretty well. I networked- for real! I have the business cards of people I met to prove it! I’ll follow up with them tomorrow. For the present, I’m just trying to get my body rested up and back to life in the Upper Valley.

I am grateful that I got to go to this conference and see old friends from Washington University and even met some brand new people. The remarkable thing is that I opened many conversations myself at random times- riding down in the elevator of the hotel, on the crowded escalator at the conference center, etc. I even got to talk in person with someone I met through Twitter. That is very different for me and reflects my new attitude towards the world this year. I’m not sure if any of this will lead me to the next career stage in my life, but it was good to see that I can connect at least and yet still be my very introverted self. I had plenty of little quiet moments. And only an afternoon of total panic, that I was able to get over relatively quickly.

This is where having my iPhone really came in handy- I tweeted the entire meeting and was able to escape into the virtual world if I needed down time from the meeting. And I found that sitting in the minisymposia (or the major symposia) was good down time, though still tiring. It is amazing how much scientists still haven’t solved the problem of presenting large and complex data sets- a lot of people were presenting data like that and it was really hard to absorb as an audience member.

So to sum up, I had a good time in Austin, TX and was impressed by a lot of the people and work going on in plant science. I took a good step towards finding what’s next for me and actually took away the message that people are happy to help one another (I know I try to help people when I can). I can also tell my new positive attitude helped me a lot. I don’t know that I’m the best tactician or even networker, and I still have trouble opening up to some extent, but this was a good meeting for me- more progress to come, I’m sure as I take the next bold step of following up with many of the people I met at Plant Biology 2012.

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Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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