Monday, September 28, 2009

The conference in Berlin

Well, I'm back from my trip to Berlin. My talk at the conference went pretty well. The PowerPoint presentation was good, but I didn't do so well answering a certain question... Basically, the problem is that my part in the research I was presenting is now over, and I've moved on to grad school at a different institution and I actually don't know too much about the specifics of the ecological applications of the project that my coauthors have planned for the future. So the question went something like,

"I was wondering if you plan to take into account blah blah blah fragmentation blah blah time blah blah blah blah spatial blah blah blah blah."

I didn't really fully understand the question--this wasn't my part in the project. So I answered,

"Well, I won't be looking into it, since I've moved on to other things [I had mentioned this fact already], but my coauthors may have plans to look into that." The audience laughed. I did not mean for that to be humorous. It dawned on me that my comment may have come off as a bit flippant. I was horrified. Anyway, I followed this up by explaining that I thought it was a good point and then gave some extra details that I thought might be relevant and make me sound somewhat intelligent. Then the professor under whom I had done the research (I was the first author, but she was the principal investigator), who was sitting in the room of course, caught the attention of the convenors who called on her so she could answer the question. It was good that the question was answered. It was less good that someone had to answer my question for me. And I still worry that people thought I was blowing off that guy with my comment.

Ah well. The conference was relatively enjoyable. I have to say that most of the talks didn't have much to do with the direction that I plan on taking my studies, but some were still interesting. I think the best thing about the conference itself was seeing the people that I had met a year and a half ago in southern France. That meeting had been of a small (~30 people) subgroup of the organization that was having the Berlin conference (~800 people), so I had gotten to know each of the thirty people at the meeting fairly well. I think that helped me, getting to know a small pool of people before being plunged into the big sea of the conference.

It was a good week, especially since the travel, lodging, and food was all paid for. And the jet lag wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I mean, a 12-hour time difference isn't so zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ahem, sorry, where was I?

I skipped one of the five days to go on a bus tour of Berlin, and another one to see the zoo. I have some fun pictures to share, but I've also got a huge load of work that piled up while I was away, so it may be a number of days before I get around to posting. For now, I leave you with a kind of blurry picture of me giving my talk. Don't I look professional?


Sebastian said...

I hope the hall was more full than the front two rows suggest... :P

I tried in vain to look for a typo on the slide. Hooray!

Eleni said...

I was even thinking about mentioning that in the post--there were people in the audience! Even some in the front two rows, except they were on the left side of the center aisle so you can't see them from the angle of the camera shot. Admittedly, it wasn't the biggest of the theme sessions at the conference. I'd say there were at least 50 people in the room. Maybe 60-70.

Were you hoping to embarrass me? I'm quite relieved to have your approval! That said, there may not be typos but there are a few phrases that are pretty weak, since my part in the project was really the development of the methods, and my understanding of the rationale and goals was somewhat lacking. Ah well.