If you’re on campus this week, you may wonder what all the hullabaloo is going on around the SRC, McInnes Field, and various other buildings. Well, this year UBC is hosting the Goldschmidt conference – the annual international conference of geochemistry. It’s sort of a big deal to those in the field. To be honest, I’m anxious as hell.
You see, I’ve never been to a scientific conference before. Lame, you say – after nearly three years doing science, you haven’t bothered to go to one? I chalk it up to bad timing, because either my work was in it’s infancy, or, given some of the major conferences in my field occur every two years, there wasn’t a conference to present at.
I’m both excited and nervous. As a student, most of the other science-types you interact with are those in your immediate lab, department, and sometimes institution. You rarely get a chance to interact with your “big names” – those scientists who either helped start your field, or significantly shaped it (they’re usually somewhere around 50-70 years old). These are the people whose work you know inside and out, but have never met. Pouring through scientific literature, you tend to form an idea of what someone is like – it feels natural to do so, although there’s no reason to think, “Well, this wonderfully crafted sentence was without a doubt written by a tall man. Yes, tall and average looking, and a little overweight. He probably wears glasses and keeps his facial hair neatly trimmed.”
Last night was the ice-breaker (i.e. booze and food), and I felt a little overwhelmed: should I walk up to someone and just introduce myself? I imagined this going two ways:
1. Oh. My. God. You are so pretty and smart and cool looking you probably have like a million friends and a million dollars in funding and I just wanna touch your face, what’s your home number and address?
2. Oh, my. Hello there stranger, my name’s Dave *awkwardly points to name tag in a sad attempt to rouse a little laughter, but attaining none*- I work with the Sabdinglerbloopy group. I’ve read a lot of your stuff, we should talk more sometime.
Honestly, I think I’d receive the same response if I used either introduction: “Hi there, yea, sure, right, have a good night.”
Does anyone have any tips or similar experiences?