Its been a long hiatus from blogging, mainly due to spending a lot of time in the lab obtaining the first dataset of my PhD, and then attending my first international conference, the subject of this post.
The conference in question is Goldschmidt, which specialises in geochemistry and attracts geochemists from all over the world annually. This year, it was hosted down by the beach in sunny Barcelona, and attended by over 4000 delegates.
My primary reason for attending was to present a poster on my initial PhD work, to discuss the data with other geochemists and obtain feedback. Attending such an event also provided opportunities for networking and attending talks on a huge range of topics.
On the first morning, I collected my name badge along with a thick booklet listing everything going on during the week and made my way to the first talk. Several sessions focusing on different subjects were running parallel, but thankfully the conference organisers released a handy app which allowed me to pre-plan the talks I wanted to attend. I spent the day hopping between presentations on everything from crystal chemistry to chemical signals of a newly forming undersea volcano, learning a huge amount in the process. Come the evening, it was time to attend the poster session, a chilled out affair of scientific discussion fuelled by plenty of free booze!
The following few days followed much the same pattern, also involving plenary talks (presented by renowned researchers on broad topics such as the beginning of plate tectonics) and discussions with collaborators over lunch. I was able to catch up with Ola Zawalna-Geer, a postdoctoral researcher at Exeter studying Sakurajima volcano in Japan (below), which I worked on during my MSci degree. Having discovered that our datasets compliment each other very well, we are now working on coming up with a detailed model for the magmatic system below the volcano.
My poster presentation on the Wednesday evening was a busy couple of hours, with the poster attracting a constant stream of interested academics and fellow PhD students. The discussions and points raised proved extremely useful, and made me realise that my findings so far are rather exciting!
Overall, it was a fantastic experience to attend a major international conference, and despite the size of the event, it was very relaxed and welcoming for first-timers. I’d definitely encourage any PhD students at an early stage to attend such an event, as the opportunity to get so many expert opinions on my work and network with other researchers has definitely given me a lot of ideas and confidence for the rest of the PhD!