Jen here –
Recently I took several of the undergraduate students working with me to the regional Geological Society of America meeting in Richmond, Virginia. This is a good starting place to learn to present in an academic setting. The regional meetings are much smaller than larger national geoscience meetings. The last annual national meeting had ~8,000 attendees, whereas this meeting likely had only ~600-800. An order of magnitude smaller! This makes the meeting much less overwhelming! I had one student giving an oral presentation (Michael) and another with a poster presentation (Logan).
Michael gave a talk on a new model he created within GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to discover rock outcrops along roads. Something that is a huge issue in geology and paleontology is trying to find old collection localities from 10 to 50 or even 100 years ago! Often these descriptions are vague and do not include precise GPS coordinates. This means you spend hours browsing Google street view or physically driving around searching for the location. This model should help point you in the correct direction! You can watch a recording of his presentation here.
Logan was presenting on work we have recently completed on modeling the internal respiratory structures of blastoids. She has recently completed two models of a type of blastoid, fissiculate, that has never been modeled before. The results were incredibly interesting: we found that it is likely that the two main classifications of blastoids are likely not as different as everyone originally thought! This means that when classifying these animals you should look at the outside and the inside to get a complete picture of the total anatomy! You can watch a recording of Logan’s poster presentation here.
This conference was very important practice for myself as well. As I progress academically I will continue to advise and mentor students. Having the opportunity to prepare, practice, and execute the presentations allowed me to see what works and what doesn’t. Considering things like what it takes to prepare a talk versus a poster, or how do I frame feedback to be constructive and critical. Preparing a presentation of any kind takes a significant amount of time and sometimes practicing is scary, even when it is just in front of one person. Both of my students had an incredibly successful conference and I can’t wait to see what we get into next!