Apply now to take part in the 2016 GIFT workshop!

Apply now to take part in the 2016 GIFT workshop!

The General Assembly is not only for researchers but for teachers and educators with an interest in the geosciences also. Every year the Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) is organised by the EGU Committee on Education to bring first class science closer to primary and high school teachers. The topic of the 2016 edition of GIFT is ‘The Solar System and beyond’. This year’s workshop is co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA) and will be taking place on 18–20 April 2016 at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Austria.

The workshop will explore the major characteristics of the Solar System with the latest information gathered from recent space exploration using man-made satellites, and will also look into the latest theories on the formation of the Solar System. Special attention will be paid to the Moon and to Mars. Results from the ESA Rosetta Mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will also feature in the 2016 GIFT workshop.

Teachers from Europe and around the world can apply to participate in the 2016 edition of GIFT, and to receive a travel and accommodation stipend to attend the workshop, by November 30. Application information is available for download in PDF format, a document which also includes the preliminary programme of the workshop.

Not sure what to expect? More information about GIFT workshops can be found in the GIFT section of the EGU website. You can also take a look at a blog post about the 2015 workshop and also learn what the workshop is like from a teacher’s perspective here. You might also find videos of the 2013 workshop useful too.

A guide to convening a session at the General Assembly – Part II

A guide to convening a session at the General Assembly – Part II

Convening a session at a conference can seem daunting, especially if you are an early career research and a first-time convener. That’s why we’ve put together this two part series to outline the main steps of the process, with more detailed instructions to be published on the 2016 EGU General Assembly in due course. Remember, the call for sessions is open until 18 September 2015!

This post picks up where the first post of the series left off. We’ve tackled how to successfully propose a session; but what happens once your sessions is included in the programme? What does being a convener actually involve? Read on to find out!

My session proposal has been accepted, now what?

The first thing to know is that once you take on the role of being a session convener or co-convener, you aren’t on your own. Our conference organisers, Copernicus, provide full support to those who take on this exciting task. You’ll receive reminders about major deadlines and milestones, such as when you need to rate financial (travel) support applications, and help to meet them via dedicated, easy-to-use online tools.

At a glance, as a convener, you have the following duties (there is a little more detail on each one further down):

  • Advertise your sessions to attract abstracts
  • Rate financial support applications
  • Organise your session in terms of the schedule
  • Allocate presentation types on the basis of the abstract submissions
  • Select chair persons to run the session

Advertising is everything

Spreading the word about your sessions is crucial to attracting abstracts. (Image modified from: Social Media Communication, distributed via Wikimedia Commons).

Spreading the word about your sessions is crucial to attracting abstracts. (Image modified from: Social Media Communication, distributed via Wikimedia Commons).

This year, the call for abstracts will open in late October and close in January. During this period it is important that you advertise your session within your community to attract people to submit abstracts. You can do this by reaching out to colleagues, collaborators and the wider contacts within your community. And don’t forget the power of social media! Advertise your session on Twitter, Facebook, etc. to reach people outside of your tight network. It may also boost interest to invite a limited number of solicited presentations: you can find some best-practice guidelines here.

Allocating financial support

Early career scientists and established researchers from low and middle income countries who wish to present their work at the EGU General Assembly are able to apply for financial support at the time of abstract submission. This year’s deadline is December 1st. After then, it is the conveners’ job to rate the applications on the basis of the quality of the science being presented. The Programme Committee (PC) then uses this raking to allocate the funds amongst the applicants. For a detailed description of this process, see the financial support pages on the EGU website.

Organising your session

Once all abstracts are in – the deadline for submission of abstracts is 13 January 2016 – it’s time to organise your session! Depending on the number of abstracts your session received, it will be accepted with oral blocks, accepted as poster-only session, or you might be asked to merge with another session and transfer the submitted abstracts to this merged session. In this latter case, you may become a co-convener in the newly created session. You’ll also have to review all the abstracts submitted to your session and decide whether to accept them, reject them or direct them to another more suitable session

Once the content of your session is finalised, you’ll get the opportunity to make your scheduling request. This means thinking about the expected audience size, and back-to-back and no-overlap requests with other sessions. Keep in mind that the PC will do its best to meet requests, but that this is not always possible due to the complications associated with building a huge conference programme!

By mid-February the PC has finalised the conference programme and conveners have one final job left: organise the details of sessions in terms of presentation types. Using the abstracts, you’ll have to choose which are to be allocated an oral presentation slot vs. a poster presentation. You’ll also have to define the length of each talk and make sure that you’ve chosen at least two abstracts from early career scientists for oral presentations. Make sure you’ve highlighted any invited speakers as ‘solicited’ in the programme and order the presentations using the online tool. Finally, be sure to select two chairs per oral block and per poster block.

A Union-wide session at the 2015 General Assembly. (Credit: EGU/Stephanie McClellan)

A Union-wide session at the 2015 General Assembly. (Credit: EGU/Stephanie McClellan)

Final tips and pointers

Armed now with an outline of how to put together a winning session and details of your roles and responsibilities as a convener, why not give it a go? You’ve got until the 18th September to submit a session proposal!

As final encouragement, we spoke to some early career scientist who’d convened sessions previously. Here are some of their top tips and what they had to say about the experience:

“Don’t be afraid to give it a go! Get at least one person in your team who has convened before, even if it is someone who is not that active in all organising activities. It is good to have someone who can offer advice at all stages.” Anne Pluymakers (Tectonics and Structural Geology Division ECS Representative)

Sam Illingworth, Lecturer in Science Communication and former PC ECS Representative, shares some advice on actually running the session: “Remember to arrive to your session at least 20 minutes early, to check on the tech and upload all of the presentations. Also, if there is a no show then don’t panic. Either prepare a back-up presentation that you have, or host an extended Q&A where you discuss the talks that you have heard so far and/or a prominent issue in the field.”  Also, be prepared for the dreaded moment when the audience haven’t got any questions for the speaker: “always come up with a back-up question to ask the speaker, in case there are no other questions forthcoming in the Q&A,” says Sam.

Sam’s final top tip is one we couldn’t agree more with, after having invested a lot of time and effort in organising a session, make sure you enjoy it!

GeoTalk: Wouter Berghuijs, Union Level Early Career Scientist Representative

GeoTalk: Wouter Berghuijs, Union Level Early Career Scientist Representative

The EGU offers a platform for early career scientists (ECS) to become involved in interdisciplinary research in the Earth, planetary and space sciences, through sessions, social events and short courses at the annual General Assembly in April. One of the ways of ensuring that the voice of the Union’s ECS membership is heard is via the division early career scientist representatives.

Feedback gathered by the division representatives is collected by the Union level representative, who takes it to the EGU’s Programme Committee (PC) – the group responsible for organising the EGU’s annual General Assembly and the EGU Council – which is in charge of the overall management of the Union.  At the 2015 General Assembly (GA), Wouter Berghuijs, took on the role of union level Early Career Scientist Representative; a post he will hold until April 2016. In this instalment of GeoTalk, Wouter will tell us more about the ECS membership and how he hopes to make a difference to the community during his one-year term.

Before we get stuck in, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little more about yourself and your career?

My name is Wouter Berghuijs. I am a PhD student in Hydrology at the University of Bristol (UK). Prior to moving to Bristol, I gained an MSc and BSc in Civil Engineering at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands). During my MSc, I spent three months at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) for a research stay, and a further three months at the University of Bristol. I have been involved with the EGU since 2013, first as the Young Scientist Representative for the Hydrology Division, and since the GA in 2015 as the Union-wide Early Career Scientist Representative (editors note – Council approved having the newly elected representative to have a Union-wide role, rather than just represent the ECS membership at the Programme Committee level).

In my day-to-day research I am interested in what factors drive hydrological differences between places. Instead of studying one place in detail, I compare several hundred catchments (surface area that drains rainfall into a river, lake or reservoir) located in different landscapes and climatic regions. The aspects of hydrologic behaviour I look at can range from floods to droughts, and from short-term dynamics to multi-decadal averages. With a large part of hydrological science consisting of case-studies at individual locations, findings are difficult to transfers to other places. The comparative approach brings in opportunities to develop generalisations and expose patterns that would not be observed when a single catchment is studied in isolation.

For those readers who might not be so familiar with the Union’s ECS membership, could you explain the main idea behind it and your role as Union Level Early Career Scientist Representative?

Approximately one quarter of the Unions’ membership consists of scientists in the early stages of their career. EGU wants to provide support to this group, which has different needs compared to more established scientists. Therefore EGU supports these members by providing reduced conference fees, recognising outstanding students, awarding travel grants, organising short-courses, arranging networking possibilities and more.

Instead of going for a top-down (senior members decide all) approach, EGU decided to appoint Early Career Scientists Representatives for all their scientific divisions. These representatives serve as the link between the ECS members and the board of the different divisions. It is their task to ensure ECS needs are met, both at the Assembly and throughout the year. Other ECS members with questions, comments and thoughts can get in touch with them to ensure their opinion is represented within their division.

In my position of Union level Early Career Scientist Representative, I gather information from each of the division representatives and bring it to the EGU’s Programme Committee – the group responsible for organising the EGU’s annual General Assembly, and the Union’s Council – the board responsible for the overall management and control of the Union.

Some of the ECS Representatives at the most recent General Assembly in Vienna. From left to right, top to bottom: Matthew Agius (SM), Shaun Harrigan (HS),

Some of the ECS Representatives at the 2014 General Assembly in Vienna. Top, from left to right, (in brackets, the Division they represent) : Matthew Agius (SM), Shaun Harrigan (HS), Wouter Berghuijs (ECS Representative), Roelof Rietbroek (G), Matthias Vanmaercke (SSS), Auguste Gires (NP), Nanna B. Karlsson (CR), Bottom (left to right): Ina Plesa (GD), Lena Noack (PS and Deputy Union Level ECS PC Representative), Sam Illingworth (ECS PC Representative , 2013- 2015), Guilhem Douillet (SSP), Anne Pluymakers (TS), Jone Peter (stand-in for Beate Krøvel Humberset, ST).

Why do you feel passionately about the ECS community?

The nice part of working for the ECS community is that relatively small contributions can make huge difference to people’s research career. For example, the ability to attend a conference due to an awarded travel grant can be really important to meet other people in your field and create exposure for your research. It sounds somewhat cliché, but the ECS members are the future of geoscience. An investment now in one of these members can be important for the next 40 years.

Additionally, with the recent appointment of ECS representatives it is an interesting task to start shaping how these representatives can best contribute to the Union, and can make sure they voice the opinion of a broad group of ECS members. With a significant part of the members being ECS it is a nice challenge to change this group from being mostly consumers of activities, to explicitly having them contributing at an organisation level.

What is your vision for the EGU ECS community and how do you hope to drive change during your year long position?

Sam Illingworth (on the left) handing over the batton of the ECS Community over to Wouter at EGU 2014. Image Credit: Roelof Rietbroek, ECS Representative for the EGU Geodesy Division.

Sam Illingworth (on the left) handing over the batton of the ECS Community over to Wouter at the EGU General Assembly, 2014. Image Credit: Roelof Rietbroek, ECS Representative for the EGU Geodesy Division.

Last year Sam Illingworth was the PC Early Career Scientist Representative and made a great start to bringing all ECS together and voice their opinion to Council. My first task is to continue this work. The relative short appointment (1-year) makes it difficult to ensure both short-term and long-term improvements to the Union are made. Short-term improvements involve, for example, dealing with the feedback that provided suggestion for improvement of next years’s GA. During the year I have regular Skype meetings with all ECS representatives, and it is then my task to make sure the outcomes are discussed during e.g. the programme committee meeting (where the plans for the upcoming GA are usually set out), and council meeting later this year.

Recently, the name used to refer to early researchers across EGU was changed from Young Scientist to Early Career Scientists. Could you tell us a little more about what brought about that change and its significance?

One of the findings of the 2014 Young Scientist Survey and Forum at the GA was that early career scientist did not identify with the term young scientists due to the age connotations associated with the name. ECS benefits were considered important during the onset of academic career, independent of the age of the person. The ECS Representatives put together a proposal promoting for the name change which was brought to the EGU Council; who voted in favour of the renaming. It highlights the bottom-up nature of the organisation and how early stage scientists can make a difference in the Union.

The past General Assembly, saw a record number of short courses take place and the growth of networking opportunities and ECS specific activities. What further changes can the ECS look forward to for the 2016 conference?

The young scientists' lounge at EGU 2014. Credit: Stephanie McClellan/EGU

The young scientists’ lounge at EGU 2014. Credit: Stephanie McClellan/EGU

The short courses and ECS specific activities have been very popular at this year’s EGU, and they are definitely a keeper. I don’t think these activities should increase in number, as it is not the intention to lure away the ECS from the regular parts of the scientific meeting; it is important that they also integrated as best as possible with the more established members of their divisions.

The goal for next year is mostly to maintain the activities that were a success, try a few new concepts for those sessions that didn’t work so well. There are also several improvements that can be made such as the capacity of the rooms of short courses and their timing compared to the rest of the programme.

How can those wanting to, get involved with the EGU?

EGU is a versatile organisation; besides organising their Annual General Assembly and running 17 peer-reviewed open access journals, EGU is busy with Topical meetings, education, and various forms of outreach. Because all these aspects are run by members there is always need for motivated people with refreshing ideas. If the ideas you have (or you want to develop) relate to your division, you should contact the respective ECS representative. If the ideas are broader ranging than your division, a good start is to contact me as the Union Level ECS representative.

You can also check the EGU volunteering pages, where you’ll find information on the helping out the EGU in their activities year round. Additionally, the EGU Blogs, from the EGU offical blog GeoLog, through to the Network and Division Blogs, welcome guest contributions; so if you’d like to report from an Earth science event, conference or fieldwork, or comment on the latest geoscientific developments and write about recently published findings in peer-reviewed journals you might consider sharing your thoughts on the Blogs. For more information or to submit a post, click here or get in touch with the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts Artal.

A guide to convening a session at the EGU General Assembly – Part I

A guide to convening a session at the EGU General Assembly – Part I

Convening a session at a conference can seem daunting, especially if you are an early career research and a first-time convener. That’s why we’ve put together this two part series to outline the main steps of the process. With the call for sessions for the 2016 EGU General Assembly open until 18 September 2015, now is the perfect time to give it a go! The key ingredients are an idea for a session, a couple of co-conveners and a good session description.

How does it all work?

The EGU General Assembly is organised around the session programme, which consists of sessions representing all Programme Groups. (The organisation of sessions and the submission of abstracts are built around the session programme.

Programme Group (PG) chairs create a skeleton programme, based on the programme for previous General Assemblies, so that each PG has a few sessions in it to kick things off.

Then, the call for sessions opens, usually over the summer preceding the conference. This is the time when the scientific community is invited to suggest new sessions or modify skeleton programme sessions (you can propose a new title for a session, put someone forward to co-convene the session and/or make suggestions to improve the session description).

Once the call closes, the PG chairs evaluate the proposed sessions and decided if they should be included in the programme. They might also suggest modifications to skeleton sessions.

I’ve got an idea for a session, what do I do next?

Before submitting your session, you’ll need to make sure you have:

  • At least one session convener. If you’ve got some co-conveners on board already, make sure you consider gender diversity and invite (other) early career scientists to help you too! Additionally, select co-conveners from different countries and/or institutions. Please check with all conveners that they agree to co-convene the session.
  • A session title.
  • A session description. This isn’t mandatory at this stage, but useful for when the PGs evaluate whether your session should be included in the final programme.

You are able to amend the title and the description of the session, so you’ve got time to refine those at a later date.

Proposing a session

A screenshot of the convening a session tool on the EGU website. Click the image to englarge.

A screenshot of the convening a session tool on the EGU website. Click the image to englarge.

Once you’ve got all this in place, you are ready to submit your idea for a session! Simply head over to the provisional programme and select the PG which is most closely aligned to the subject of your session. This will display all the skeleton sessions (which you are welcome to recommend modifications for too) or click ‘Suggest a session here’ tab to submit your session idea.

You’ll be presented with screen which looks like the one above. Enter all your details and wait to hear back from the PG chair on their decision as to whether your session will go ahead.

My session may be of interest to more than one Programme Group, is this catered for?

A screenshot of the session proposal tool. Propose co-convened sessions by adding the request in the comments section.

A screenshot of the session proposal tool. Propose co-convened sessions by adding the request in the comments section. Click the image to englarge.

Co-convened sessions across disciplines are encouraged.

You can indicate that you’d like your session to be co-organised with another PG in the comments section of the submission tool. Make sure you indicate what PG you’d like to co-organise the session with and remember that the session needn’t be submitted to both groups, only the lead PG..

Your request for a cross PG collaboration will be evaluated by all relevant PG chairs and either accepted or rejected. In the case of acceptance, this session will be organised by all cooperation partners, but the leading PG chair will take primary responsibility for room bookings and time of the session.

I’d like to propose a PICO session, can I do that?

Once the call for sessions closes, during late September, session conveners have the option to change their session from a traditional oral and poster presentation session to a PICO (Presenting Interactive Content) session.

You’ll be able to do this using the ‘Session Programme Finalization’ tool. Use the edit pen, and indicate the PICO character there. PICO sessions will be shown as PICO sessions in the abstract submission, and authors cannot select an oral/poster preference as they will receive a PICO presentation regardless.

To learn more about the benefits of organising a PICO session, you can read this blog post we prepared in advance of the 2015 General Assembly.

A PICO spot at the EGU 2015 General Assembly. (Credit: EGU/Stephanie McClellan)

A PICO spot at the EGU 2015 General Assembly. (Credit: EGU/Stephanie McClellan)

I’ve proposed a session, what is the next step?

From when the call for sessions closes in mid-September, to mid-October, the Programme Committee and our conference organisers, Copernicus Meetings, do a lot of work behind the scenes to iron out any issues and finalise the conference programme.

As the programme is finalised, you’ll be notified once your session has been published on-line. You can then sit back and relax, at least for a little while! From mid-October until January, the call for abstracts is open. To generate interest in your session, you are encouraged to advertise it amongst your colleagues/collaborators and any potentially interested researchers within the field. If you are on social media platforms, we’d encourage you to promote your session this way too.

With the first steps of proposing a session covered, part II of this series we’ll take a look at what happens once the abstracts star rolling in. It will cover everything from the role of conveners in the process to allocate funds for travel support, to organisation of a session, including accepting/rejecting abstracts and planning the logistics of requesting a room and what happens during the conference. The post will also include tops tips from early career scientists who have been involved in the convening sessions in the past.

For more information on proposing and convening a session, take a look at the Programme Committee guidelines on the 2016 General Assembly website. The Tectonics and Structural Geology Division also has a nice step-by-step guide for conveners which contains lots of useful information. If you’ve been inspired to propose a session, follow this link to the call-for-sessions. If you needed a final incentive, as a thank you, the EGU invites all conveners for a reception at the end of the conference.

The European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016 will take place in Vienna, Austria, from 17-22 April 2016 and will bring together geoscientists from all over the world to one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary and space sciences.


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