PhD students, Postdocs and lecturers from the Department of Geography joined over 14,400 other scientists at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna from 24 – 28 April 2017. The General Assembly is one of the largest annual meetings of earth, atmosphere and ocean scientists in the world and offers a range of sessions for you to get your fix of the latest science. Geomorphology, hydrology, atmosphere, climate, energy and earth science feature heavily in an extensive programme of orals, poster and PICO (Presenting Interactive Content) presentations alongside short courses and debates.
This was my first time attending EGU and my week began with efforts to decipher the programme and create a schedule for the week. Overwhelming at first, I was able to navigate the huge conference centre and attend sessions on coastal morphodynamics, marine renewable energy, and estuarine processes to name but a few. The presentations offered a great opportunity to soak up data, results and information from projects around the world. Watching my MSc work presented as part of a talk on tidal lagoons and barrages in the Mersey Estuary was a pretty cool highlight.
The poster sessions at EGU are a site to be seen – rows of hundreds of colourful, detailed posters all displaying many hours of work behind them. Several students in the department had posters and it was great to see how successful each of these were. I presented a poster on the spatial variability of extreme water levels in the Severn Estuary in a session on Natural Hazard impacts in coastal areas. Ben Phillips, a first year PhD student also presented a poster in this session on his MSc work which looks at the impact of wave overtopping on beach morphology. The poster acts as a useful visual aid when engaging in in-depth discussions about your work: thanks to those who stopped, asked questions and gave incredibly useful suggestions on my own poster (sorry again to the associate professor I addressed as a PhD student).
It was also great to see friends and colleagues in action, giving talks and posters across a range of topics. Rachael Lem, a third year PhD student, presented her results on palaeoceanagraphic productivity changes in the Eastern Equatorial Atlantic to a packed room. Second year PhD students Chris Feeney and Kieran Newman presented posters on their research, and Siôn Regan presented in a PICO session. Xiaorong Li, presented a poster for work on her post doc about morphological change along the east coast of the UK. Dr Hugh Smith gave a highlighted session on predicting fire effects on water quality. Professor Janet Hooke presented work on the role of events, structures and morphology in ephemeral channels.
In addition to posters and presentations, a series of debates and short courses were also included in the schedule. Highlights here included debates on ‘How to make science great again’ and ‘Science communication in the age of Brexit and Trump’. High ranking panellists certainly drew the crowds to these sessions. These sessions encouraged young and established scientists to speak up for their discipline and gave advice on how to clearly communicate a message through stories, graphics and even poetry. Short courses on visualising your data to make it more appealing and understandable to a wider audience and tips to write a successful scientific paper were popular sessions which provided invaluable advice.
Overall, EGU 2017 was a great experience with lots of interesting science, new ideas and a great opportunity to get to know more people in the community. If you get a chance to attend the EGU General Assembly for the first time, here are some tips:
- Spend the time deciphering the programme to fill your week with an interesting programme of sessions. I found the EGU app incredibly useful in helping me create a programme.
- Don’t just search through the presentations and posters by just the disciplines related to your work. You might find some real gems if you go off piste. One of the best sessions I attended of the week was about how science communication can be strengthened when twinned with art, music, film and even board games!
- Don’t rely on the free coffee and cookies for sustenance – it’s a scrum to get them during the breaks. Bring a flask and a packed lunches.
- Ensure you find the time to explore Vienna and sample a local apfelstrudel and sachertorte. You will not regret it.
Thanks to ARCoES project for financial support to allow me to attend the conference.