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View Diary: Congress moves to limit government scientist travel (37 comments)

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  •  One word: Networking (8+ / 0-)

    These conferences are a lot more than just a bunch of scheduled speakers giving talks (though there is a lot of that).  There are poster presentations from fellow researchers and even students (graduate and undergrads).  There are individual workshops that you can pick and choose based on your own interests.  There are seminars about legal, ethical and political factors impacting science.  

    Then there is outreach and recruiting.  As I mentioned, sometimes highly talented and motivated undergrad, graduate and post-docs give poster presentations.  My wife always goes to the conferences because it's a great place to recruit people.  Just last month, she traveled to a three day conference out west just because her lab got a huge grant and she's going to need to hire some people.  Conferences are a great way to find talented people who are interested in your field and wine and dine them.  

    A teleconference just is not conducive to this sort of thing.  How are you going to walk around a convention hall and look at random posters to find an undergrad that you'd like to recruit into your lab to get a PhD?  How are you going to find someone who has a PhD but no tenure track job who is looking for a post-doc to pad their CV?  How are you going to approach, wine-and-dine and hopefully poach away a rival university's hottest talent on a teleconference?    

    •  My wife also encourages grad students to go... (4+ / 0-)

      ...to these conferences and do posters whenever possible. Often the lab will help pay for out of the lab's budget (when it's  permissible to do so).  Not only is it good PR and Advertising for the lab, but for the students it's a great way to meet potential future employers.  

      •  That's how I attended. (0+ / 0-)

        I was always on the 'student' end of things, never the 'employer' end.  But I would think that once you actually set up the infrastructure for such networking online, you'd be incentivized to use it to keep in contact and work together far more often, rather than just hitting a conference or 3 per year.  I hated the physical side of making and traveling with poster presentations, though, and would far rather have preferred to do a power point or other such presentation.

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