I Spent Part of My Break in 80 Degree Weather – A Scientific Conference Story

by Katie Voitik

The title kind of says it all. I got to escape the cold, dreary grip of winter for a week and explore the sunny desert southwest of Phoenix, Arizona. Every year, the American Meteorological Society hosts a national conference. I’ve been to it in the past, and this year I actually decided to present my summer research. Some of you might be thinking about doing research. Some of you have probably done it, but don’t quite know if you should go further. I’m here to present a few points that I think are important about going to, and presenting at, a scientific conference.

1) Any research, no matter how small, is important. You will encounter projects with subjects you can’t even pronounce. There are so many projects, it can fill up an entire auditorium (kind of like science fair in grade school, except the projects are for adults now – no more baking soda volcanoes). Presenting your research will most likely interest someone somewhere, even if it doesn’t interest you. My project was about the variability of rainfall. Honestly, it wasn’t super interesting to me. But the people who came up to me to hear about my work were experts on rain and wanted to know what I had done!

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Katie and her research

2) You will have some incredible perks. You might get funds from your research group to go, like I did. A seemingly expensive trip will turn out to be very manageable with this. There are contests and prizes that you could win, like best poster presentation, best oral presentation, etc. Of course, there is networking. People came up to my poster that are the heads of so many companies. I met the president of the National Weather Service, AccuWeather, and the company that runs The Weather Channel. Give them your business card, receive theirs, and BOOM. Networking.

3) It’s a huge resume booster. Being able to say that you not only did research but showed it off to the public tells people that you are not afraid to share your work. You are confident and willing to contribute to your field. It looks amazing on a resume, and well worth the trip.

Voitik 14) Finally, you will get to experience an amazing conference! While I really only know how mine works, I know that we went to talks about weather during the day, had special speakers, lunches, etc…and then we explored at night. We walked around downtown Phoenix and went to unique restaurants and sights that you just don’t have in Iowa. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and even went hiking for a day!

The conference itself is a great place to learn more about a subject you love, in a unique location that you may have never planned to visit before. Even if presenting sounds scary, everyone around you will support you and help you have an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

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