Hi, it’s Lian!
This year, I attended the Geological Society of America (GSA)’s national conference, known as GSA Connects. This conference is the largest one hosted by the organization, and thousands of people attended. It took place in Denver, Colorado at the Colorado Convention Center and ran for several days.
At the conference, I gave an oral presentation in the “Future Leaders in Paleontology” session, which was very exciting! I talked about my senior thesis that investigated blastoid morphology by studying their underlying skeletal components. The session was hosted by the Paleontological Society, and took place on the first day of the conference. Several of my friends and colleagues also gave oral presentations in the same session, so it was a fun environment to be in.
Before my presentation, the group of people that I attended the conference with and I were able to practice together at the hotel. We would go around and practice our talks while sharing helpful tips and tricks. I really enjoyed being able to practice in a calm and casual environment and felt like it helped ease my nerves.
Outside of my oral presentation, I also contributed to several posters that were being presented in various sessions. The timing of my presentation and the posters didn’t overlap, so I was able to stop by and visit the presenters and talk to visitors who were interested in the research.
The conference also had an exhibition hall, where numerous organizations, companies, and schools had booths. There was a lot of free stuff available- I collected a lot of pens and stickers! I was also able to learn about masters programs at different universities in addition to internship opportunities. The exhibition hall was nice because I was able to talk to a real person who represented a larger company or organization that I was interested in instead of just reading their website.
Overall, attending the national GSA conference was extremely beneficial and fun. I would highly recommend attending a national conference. I was able to expand my professional network by meeting with current professors and researchers. I was also able to learn about current research being done in so many different fields. It was amazing to hear about what everyone is up to! One tip that I would have for anyone interested in attending a conference would be to make a calendar of all of the talks/presentations that you want to attend beforehand so you don’t miss out on anything! Having an agenda was super helpful and also took a lot of the stress out of my days, especially because many of the talks run concurrently.