Last week I attended the Microbiology Society’s Annual Meeting in Liverpool, UK - my second conference this year, and it’s still only March! Conference season is upon us and is here to stay until the autumn; we’ll be attending quite a number over the next few months. As a PhD student, I didn't realise journal editors went to quite so many conferences – I really only knew Nature et al were around when there was an exhibition stand, which you’ll only see at the bigger conferences.
The Nature Publishing Group stand at the 2016 Microbiology Society’s Annual Meeting attracted quite a crowd - everyone loves a freebie! (photo credit: H Burdett)
As an editor, I've found conferences quite a different experience, in part I think because we’re there for different reasons to the academics. Don’t get me wrong, conferences are great opportunities for PhD students, post-docs and senior researchers to network, meet colleagues, put faces to names, establish new collaborations and catch up with old friends. However, as an editor, there’s no need to be frantically writing a talk on the plane / train / bus on your way to the conference, cursing yourself for having not learnt the lessons of last time and done it earlier. Gone is the constant stress of trying not to forget your poster tube, which inevitably ends its days in the overhead lockers of a plane or the wardrobe of a transit hotel (I have done both and know I am not alone!!). Nor do I need to spend the conference a little on-edge because my talk / poster slot has been scheduled for the last session, of the last day, in the smallest room, in a darkened corner of the conference centre. Banished is the fear of "Will anyone turn up?!"
These worries are no more! I've really quite enjoyed my new experience of conferences. We’re there to take advantage of all the good bits with a particular emphasis on networking. Knowing our community (i.e. YOU!) is really important – it helps keep us up-to-date with the latest developments in the field and gives our work some personal meaning rather than faceless science behind closed doors. Of course, it’s also great to indulge in a session on a favourite topic knowing that it’s not me up next!
So, do keep an eye on the ‘On the road’ channel of our community site, which gives details of where we’re off to next. We’d love to talk to you about your work, so please do drop us an email, grab us for a coffee or meet us at the Nature Research exhibition stand of the next conference you’re at!