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AGU Fall Meeting 2018

January 30th, 2019

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2018 was the first time I attended a conference that was of such magnitude in all aspects – attendees, arrangements, content and information. It is an overwhelming experience for a first timer but totally worth it. The amount of knowledge and information that one can learn at this event is the biggest takeaway; depends on each person’s abilities but trying to get the most out of it is what one will always aim for.

There were 5 to 6 types of events that were held throughout the day for all 5 days. The ones that stood out for me were the poster sessions, e-lightning talks, oral sessions and the centennial plenary sessions.
The poster sessions helped to see at a glance the research that is going on in the various fields all over the world. No matter how much I tried, I found it hard to cover all the sections that piqued my interest in the poster hall. The e-lightning talks were a good way to strike up a conversation on the topic of the talks and get a discussion going among all the attendees. Being a group discussion structure I felt that there was more interaction as compared to the other venues. The oral sessions were a great place to get to know how people are exploring their areas of interests and the various methods and approaches that they are using for the same. However, I felt that it is hard for the presenter to cover everything that is important and relevant in the given time span. The time constraints are there for a very valid reason but that might lead to someone losing out on leads if the audience doesn’t fully get the concept. Not all presenters were up to the mark. I could feel a stark difference between the TWC presenters (who knew how to get all the right points across) and the rest of the presenters. The centennial plenary sessions were a special this year as AGU is celebrating the centennial year. These sessions highlighted the best of research practices, innovations, achievements and studies. The time slots for this session were very small but the work spoke for itself.

The Exhibit Hall had all the companies and organisations that are in the field or related to it. Google, NASA and AGU had sessions, talks and events being conducted here as well. While Google and NASA were focussing on showcasing the ‘Geo-‘ aspect of their work. AGU was focussing on the data aspect too which was refreshing. They had sessions going on about data from the domain scientists’ point of view. This comes across as fundamental or elementary knowledge to us at TWC but the way they are trying to enable domain scientists to be able to communicate better with data scientists is commendable.  AGU is also working on an initiative called “Make data ‘FAIR’ (Findable Accessible Interoperable Reusable) again’ which is once again trying to spread awareness amongst the domain scientists. The exhibit hall is also a nice place to interact with industry, universities and organisations who have research programs for the doctorate students and postdocs.

In retrospect, I think planning REALLY ahead of time is a good idea so that you know what to ditch and what not to miss. A list of ‘must attend’ could have helped with the decision making process. A group discussion at one of our meetings where everyone shares what they find important, before AGU, could be a good idea. Being just an audience is great and one gets to learn a lot, but contributing to this event would be even better. This event was amazing and has given me a good idea as to how to be prepared the next time I am attending it.

 

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