American Geophysical Union
Old Member’s Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Grant report– Rellie Goddard
The American Geophysical Union, referred to simply as AGU, is the largest annual assembly of Geologists, with over 28,000 attendees. For anyone who is entering the later stages of their PhD, AGU is a pilgrimage spurred on by the possibility of new collaborations and jobs. For the dissemination of research, there are few events that reach as many people or hold such prestige. If I’ve not been clear enough yet, let me put it simply: the place is massive. For a first time attendee it is hard not to be overwhelmed by it all. Posters occupy the cavernous space in their thousands, numerous talks and sessions occur simultaneously and there are as many networking events as hours in the day. You wander round in a constant panic that you’ve missed something vital or that you should have planned your time better. I was lucky to have spent part of my summer at the Gordon’s Research Conference in Boston, a more intimate conference of purely Rock Deformation Geologists. This provided a springboard for networking, something invaluable in an environment where it is so easy to get overwhelmed. The first night after the AGU conference consisted of the Rock Deformation Subject Annual Dinner, a perfect opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues as well as explore potential new postdoctoral supervisors. It is also a wonderful opportunity merely to relax and have a few drinks after the stressful weeks preceding the conference.
I was privileged to have been given an opportunity to present my first ever AGU talk. The majority of the sessions which were relevant to my research were at the end of the week and, therefore, I dedicated the first couple of days to practising and perfecting my presentation. The talk came sooner than I would have liked, but similarly was over in what felt like an instant. Most importantly, I managed to earn the approval of one of the leading experts in our field, Shun Karato. The rest of the week was devoted to networking and absorbing geology. There were a number of interesting poster sessions and I managed to touch base with one of the collaborators on my project, Dr Caleb Holyoke III.
In the down moments of the conference I explored Washington – a city full of free museums and history. One of my closest friends from undergrad days was also at AGU and we took the opportunity to go and visit Michelle Obama’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery. I also experienced my first ever American sports game. The basketball was exciting and took me back to my childhood of watching the soap One Tree Hill. However, I couldn’t get my head around the rest of it. In total I think four minutes of play took about 40 minutes due to all the advertising and time outs. Give me instead a Six Nations Match any day…
I would like to thank the Old Member’s Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Grant for allowing me the opportunity to present my work at AGU. It is safe to say the experience is likely to be of fundamental importance in future applications for research grants and research positions.