Last week, I participated in the Botany 2013 meetings (#Botany2013) in New Orleans, LA. There are several societies that gather annually at the botany meetings, including the small group of botanists that focus their research on ferns, lichens, and general botany. Conferences are an important part of what scientists do, because we need to communicate our research to an audience.

Here are the top five reasons why I attend conferences:

  1. Networking. As a student entering my 5th year of U of I’s PhD program I need to be looking for postdoc opportunities. Conferences are a great way to see what other researchers are doing and make contacts for potential job opportunities.
  2. Collaboration. Meetings are a great way to get together with people you may want to set up a collaboration with or to touch base with collaborators that you have ongoing projects with.
  3. Mark your territory. Sometimes it is important to let people know what you’re doing so that they don’t start working on the same question.
  4. Get feedback. Presenting a poster instead of an oral paper can sometimes net you great feedback on the question you are asking. This ranges from data generation ideas to analyses.
  5. Motivation. A great side effect of a meeting is that you listen to all the other amazing research being done and get energized about your own project. Often ideas are generated and new leads are discovered by thinking of your own research from another angle.