When I first started all this I was not expecting to go to New York.
I’d never travelled outside the UK a great deal. A couple of fieldtrips to Africa during my undergrad and masters courses were the furthest I’d ever been. Family holidays always involved camping someplace in the UK and I was not the sort of PhD student who went off to study exotic animals in far away places. Calling my study species exotic is rather stretching the definition of the word.
As such, when my supervisor told me I should go to New York I was somewhat shocked.
It was at some point during my first year. We were discussing conferences. My supervisor told me that I should aim to present at ISBE during my third year.
I nodded wisely (Hah! My third year was at least an eon away, and as such would never arrive!)
“It’s in New York”
Once again I nodded wisely. (I knew New York existed, I had seen it on the telly. Nevertheless the idea of putting me, who found Falmouth in summer altogether too many people, in this glamorous metropolis seemed ridiculous)
“You should definitely aim to present” he reiterated.
The meeting concluded.
“Hah!” I thought as I sat down at my desk again. “Present non-extant results in the far future in a semi-mythical city? What a silly notion”
When I looked up again and discovered a couple of years had passed, it was time to try and submit an abstract for ISBE. I felt my collective behaviour work was by far the most exciting thing I had going, though it was still something of a work in progress. However I did my best to write something that sounded good and sent it off and waited.
After the deadline I finally got an e-mail acknowledging my submission. At some point (after a decent period of worrying) I had confirmation that I had a talk.
So I went to New York.
It’s my first ever international conference, and the organisers had definitely pulled out all the stops to impress us. Here is me and my friend Anne (Who I did my masters course with and is absolutely the sort of PhD student who goes to far away places to study exotic species) at one of the poster sessions.
Photo credit: Sheridan Willis (whom I also did my MSc with)
This was the view from the window:
However I couldn’t get too distracted by all of this. I had come here to do a talk. As I mentioned before it was to be the last talk of the day in my session. Turned out my session would also be in a room on the 10th floor of the building, specifically designed to roast behavioural ecologists. There was no view from these particular windows, only more heat.
I generally find it hard to judge how a talk has gone. I felt fairly happy with it afterwards, but the actual details were hazy. I did my best to answer some questions and then took the
lift elevator downstairs again.
And that was it. I’d spoken at an international conference and hopefully acquitted myself well. In New York. It is something I would never have imagined myself doing at the start of this project. I still have trouble imagining it now.
Also, guess where the next ISBE is!