Monday, August 6, 2012

Science on the move, again!

The summer is (sadly) coming to a close, which means its time for ESA, the Ecological Society of America conference. This is a huge meeting, around 3,000-4,000 people attend, from all kind of ecology. Going to conferences in an integral part of being a scientist because this is where you hear about the newest stuff going on in the field and get to talk to people about your and their science, hear about new methods and research projects you may have never known about before. This meeting consists of talks and posters and the meeting lasts a whole week. This meeting always takes place is huge conference centers and there are tons of sessions going on at the same time and you have to do some homework with the program to figure out what you want to see and when. Because this meeting is so big students have the opportunity to present their research when there may not be as much opportunity at smaller meetings.

This meeting can be overwhelming to some, especially if you are a plant ecologist and there are tons of overlapping sessions with talks you want to see, but I really enjoyed my first attendance last year. The disease community is still small enough that there is usually only one, sometimes two, concurrent sessions with disease ecology talks and most of the people I see at this meeting I’ve met before, so its another opportunity to see friends and hear talks from more people than there is room for at EEID. Also, since very few people get talks at EEID and even fewer grad students, this is the only national meeting I will give a talk at this year.

I will be giving a talk on the data I collected in last year’s field season on patterns of tick burden and immune function within individuals over time, trying to address the questions: “Are some hosts consistently more parasitized than others?”, and “Is there a relationship between host’s tick burdens and innate immune function?”. I have some top professors in the field giving talks in the same session as me, which is both awesome and a little terrifying.  I need to keep telling myself that I am the one that knows my data the best and I just need to tell everyone a good story about it. Hopefully the nerves will stay under control, I can get way more nervous than I expect at these things.

The meeting this year is in Portland, OR which I am super excited about. Last year it was in Austin, TX, which is a great city, but it is f-ing hot there in August! Portland may be a little warm for them now, but I think it will still be a pleasant chance of scenery. I have heard nothing but great things about the city. Plus, they are a great beer town so I am sure there will be plenty of mixing beer and science, which is one of main point of going to these things.

I plan on updating my Tumblr account with pictures and thoughts from the meeting, since it is a little easier than uploading directly to the blog. So, subscribe to my page if you want to see updates. The hashtag #ESA2012 is being used by tons of people who will be posting stuff about the meeting. I am always optimistic about mobile blogging and such from these meetings, but I always seem to end up having way too much fun actually being there to talk about it online. We’ll see what happens this year. I leave tomorrow at 6:00am (yikes!) but am very excited to present my research and get tapped into the disease ecology world once more before the fall semester starts.

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