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Mid-Atlantic Student Conference Guide

Conferences can be great opportunities to share your research, meet other scientists, and learn about exciting trends in ecology. They can also be a bit overwhelming and exhausting. We’ve assembled some suggestions and strategies to help you prepare for MA-ESA and get the most out of our conference.

What do I wear?

Ecology folks are generally a laid back crowd, but this is a professional event. Especially for students looking to make a good impression, we suggest business casual.


How should I prepare?

There’s going to be a lot going on at our day-long conference. Take a little time beforehand to look over our schedule – particularly the oral and poster sessions – to see what’s on the agenda and make sure you don’t miss anything that seems interesting to you.

Create an “elevator speech” for yourself that is a 30 second answer to the question, “What do you do?”. Having a short description about yourself, the kind of work you do and/or the kind of work you want to do helps you look professional and makes starting conversations more comfortable. You may also find it helpful to have business cards printed with your contact info to share with new people they meet.

Consider setting up a Twitter account to help get know and connect with other scientists. Make sure your profile is up to date. If you’re giving a presentation, don’t forget to add your social media handle to the presentation so people can find you online. You can learn more about using social media at conference from a case study by Jordan Rutter.

If you’re giving an oral or poster presentation, be sure to review our presentation guidelines so your presentation is in the correct format or your poster is the correct size. Courtesy the PLOS Computational Biology’s Ten Simple Rules series, take a look at “Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations” and “Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation” to help refine your presentation. Don’t forget to not only practice your presentation itself, but invite friends and colleagues to help you prepare for the audience Q&A as well.


What should I do at the conference?

Conferences can be a great place meet new people. Expanding your professional network can help you prepare for graduate school, find jobs, create new research collaborations, and get advice about developing your career. Don’t be afraid to talk to new people, remember to exchange contact information, and have an elevator pitch handy (via Southern Fried Science). The Muse’s “An Introvert’s Guide to Networking” also has some useful advice.

During the Q&A portion of the oral presentations and at the poster session, don’t be afraid to ask questions – but keep them thoughtful and respectful.

Most importantly, have fun!