By Joseph Alfonso
Most students attending the national ESA meeting for the first time, like myself, expect to create connections with other people and gain exposure to new science in their field. Over time, the experiences we gain from each additional meeting will vary, but the benefit in attending is great.
I spoke with a few people Sunday morning about what the meeting has meant to them, and while the responses varied, the overall message emphasized the importance of exposure. The opportunity to create connections as friends, collaborators, or employers makes the meeting a very special place. It brings more people together in the scientific community than a student could meet at their university.
As the second day wound down I already gained more experiences than I imagined, and I hope students that didn’t attend this year, undergraduate or graduate, have the opportunity to come next year.
One graduate student told me that it’s hard for her to step outside her own discipline and that the meetings give her “an opportunity to branch out and learn more about entomology as a whole” and that since she spend so much time in the lab, the meetings are like “my social interactions for the year.”
Another longtime member told me how ESA meetings helped him build confidence as a young student by giving him opportunities to present his research and to connect with other scientists.
One guy even told me that he met his wife at an ESA meeting!
You can see the three of them in the video below.
Joseph Alfonso is a graduate student at North Dakota State University studying how climate change affects species interactions.