European Geoscience Union – A Conference of Career Firsts

One thing I’d really like to do in 2021 is get back into writing just for fun. Although I have written a lot academically in the last few years, my space and time to just write my thoughts had become really squeezed. I hope to use some spare time on Friday mornings to quickly put a few words together about what’s on my mind at the time and re-engage with the craft. These are my own personal views and opinions.

European Geoscience Union – A Conference of Career Firsts

This sort of time, each year, is the annual meeting of the European Geoscience Union, officially known as the General Assembly, but more commonly referred to as EGU. Pre-Covid it is held in a giant conference centre in Vienna, Austria, and attracts geo-scientists from around the world. It’s huge, at the last face-to-face meeting, 2019, 16,273 scientists from 113 countries attended and gave > 16,000 research presentations!

EGU 2010 – before the mega-shed

For my academic career it has been a really important research meeting. Not only is it a place to catch up with all the latest research in your field, and also many other fields you fancy dipping your toe into, it is a chance to catch up with friends, former colleagues, and co-authors, that otherwise would be spread all around the world. It’s also a chance to make new friends or to bug that researcher whose research you love.

EGU has been a place for a lot of career firsts for me. In 2010, it was my first research conference, in 2011 I presented my research, as a poster, for the first time, followed the year after with my first oral presentation. I remember this being hugely stressful as I was presenting in one of the largest halls with a screen the size of a cinema screen. It was quite intimidating but the feeling after you’ve presented is a buzz I’ve grown to love. Networking is something I find difficult but I also find it a whole lot easier if I know people have seen me present.

Me presenting my research in 2011 – photo by Dr Suman Singha (above). The huge conference hall where I first gave a talk about my research (below, it got busier!)

This year, the second year of virtual EGU, attended from my home office space, was also a year of firsts. For the first time I have seen students I support presenttheir research and even convene their own sessions – firsts for them at the conference too. I am so proud of what they have achieved and that is an indescribable feeling, a buzz I think is even better than presenting yourself.

I am very much looking forward to the 2022 EGU conference. We’re all hoping this will be a first for the conference organisers too. Whilst we all acknowledge that virtual conference could never replace the experience of a face-to-face meeting, I don’t think we could maintain our credibility if we go straight back to 16,000 people travelling from across the globe, often by air, to discuss geoscience. We need to reduce the climate impacts of such meetings and also to increase the accessibility of them. EGU 2022 is set to be the first ‘blended’ meeting for the conference, with options to attend in person, or to participate virtually. I’m really looking forward to this first experience.

Chris

Baklava and an iced-coffee in the Greek restaurant on the banks of the Danube – my heaven.

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