After a bright and early start in the four different cities from which each member of the White lab travelled, Helen, Sarah, Pat, Katie and I finally congregated in the New Orleans airport around the Falcons vs. 49ers game. We made it safely to the hotel, put up our posters and began looking around for familiar faces and perusing schedules for the names of all the people whose papers we may have read since becoming involved in the White lab.
The conference so far has been amazing: so much information to assimilate, so many people to meet, so much good food to eat, and so much to do packed into a single day. For all those wondering, this conference is not for the weak of heart! We are in talks from 8:30 am through 6:00 pm, with two short breaks for coffee and snacks a longer respite for some lunch and a short venture outside of the hotel. Even though the majority of our time is spent indoors and wandering from one oral presentation or poster session to another, the experience has been incredible, and completely different from any other conference I have ever been to (which of course is limited to the Haverford and Swarthmore research symposia). I’ve learned new things in so many different areas– geochemistry, physics, microbiology, modeling methods, public health, chemistry, charismatic marine megafauna; there is so much multidisciplinary research going on that at times it is overwhelming!
I have had the chance to see people whose names have appeared again and again in the papers supporting my research, have had to draw up the courage to go up to and introduce myself to those people, and even enjoyed lunch and dinner with some of the big names in oil-related research. And since audacity and boldness do not stop at meeting people and one must also try new things in new places, I can also say that I ventured out on a limb to sample alligator and frog legs for dinner, all decked out with cajun goodness. And they were delicious.
I’ve had the last two days to figure out how this whole conference thing works, but tomorrow it is my turn to kick of the day presenting my poster. Wish me luck!