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Making AGU Fall Meeting 2013 Work For You

David Hulslander

The AGU Fall Meeting is The Conference That Ate The Geosciences. All the big discoveries, results, and missions get rolled out here. It is a hub for human geospatial progress, from the sun, through the solar system and atmosphere, all the way to the core of the earth. It's a great boost to your science and your career, but it can be hard to navigate, especially for first time attendees. Here are some tips for how to get the most out of Fall Meeting. 

With a conference this big, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. While everyone develops their own approach to managing their time there, here are some great ways to make the most of AGU Fall Meeting 2013 (#AGU13):

  • Use the online Scientific Program tools and develop your own itinerary before you go! Download it to your phone, tablet, or laptop. There are way too many sessions and talks to try and decide what to see on the fly. You’ll just get stressed and miss out.
  • Use the Program Book, either the digital one or a paper copy at the conference. This lets you change plans or fill unscheduled time. The WiFi coverage is decent, but it can get busy and slow, so don’t count on being able to access it live.
  • Take notes using a system you’re used to. If you use a tablet, great. Laptops can work well, too, but keep a paper notebook with you for backup. Don’t lose knowledge because you forgot your charger or your battery couldn’t keep up with a long day of science!
  • There is no question that science is huge on social media. Make it work for you! New events and information pop up constantly at this meeting. AGU has a great Facebook feed to Like. If you’re not there already, this is also a great time to get on Twitter. Watch for the#AGU13 tag, and get headlines from other attendees who are right there when discoveries are shown. It’s the closest you can get to attending multiple sessions at one time.
  • Be flexible. Take a look at other sessions that are way outside your work. I’m a hazards and earth surface guy, but I get huge benefits from going to heliophysics sessions, volcanology presentations, atmospheric work, and more. Check out the educational, public affairs, and outreach sessions. They’re where your science ultimately goes!
  • Make a point to go to the poster sessions. Grab a coffee in the morning or a beer in the afternoon, walk the aisles and get inspired! See what catches your eye, learn something new, strike up conversations with the authors and fellow viewers. I find my best ideas for what to try in research in the next year doing exactly this.
  • Go see student talks and posters. These are some of the hardest working people in the field, and their enthusiasm is contagious.Their passion for science is genuine (they sure aren’t doing it for the money…), they have a lot of great new ideas, and it’s a great way to add some new names to your network.
  • Meet up with colleagues outside of sessions,when you can slow down a little. San Francisco has great restaurants and venues. Use them and have conversations that can lead you in all sorts of new directions. AGU has a full calendar of events that are good for this, too. There’s even a 5k Fun Run, hopefully drier than last year’s.

I’m excited to be going to Fall Meeting again, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be sure to be at the Landsat, GPM, coastal, polar, and Mars sessions, for a start. Follow my coverage of the conference on Twitter (@DavidHulslander), or my friend and coworker Thomas Harris (@t_harris). Or stop by and see me at my poster, EP13A-0836, “A Quantitative Comparison of Traditional and Image-Derived Bathymetry From Landsats 5, 7, and 8” from 1:40to 6:00 PM on Monday! We have several other talks and posters next week, too.

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