GeoLog

GeoLog

EGU 2017: How to make the most of your time at the General Assembly without breaking the bank

EGU 2017: How to make the most of your time at the General Assembly without breaking the bank

Attending a conference is not cheap, even if you’ve been lucky enough to secure some funds to help with travel, accommodation and/or registration costs. However, with a little insider knowledge from those who’ve attended the General Assembly many times before, it is possible to have a (scientifically) rewarding week in Vienna, without breaking the bank.

Before you get there

A sure way to save a few cents (or pennies) is to book your accommodation and travel early. With over 13,000 participants at the conference last year, the race for places to stay and transport to get to Vienna is fierce. Booking early will not only mean you have more choice of places to stay and times to travel, but will ensure you get the most competitive prices too.

For those travelling by plane to the conference, a top tip is to look for flights to Bratislava. The Slovakian capital is only 80km away from Vienna and well connected via bus, train and even boat! Bratislava airport is served by a good selection of low cost airlines and it’s often cheaper to fly there than directly to Vienna. A bus ticket between the two cities can cost as little as one Euro (if booked well in advance) with the average for a return train trip being around 14 euro. If that’s not enough to persuade you, it’s worth factoring in a little time to discover the city. It’s a warren of quaint little streets, an imposing castle and good, affordable beer and food.

Bratislava Old Town. Credit: Xlibber (distributed via Wikimedia Commons)

If you’d rather head straight to Vienna, booking your arrival and departure for the day(s) before and after the conference can result in considerable savings. And, if you’re ok with longer journeys, you might consider the train or the bus, which are often more affordable too.

Somewhere to stay

Sharing accommodation is an easy way to keep costs down. If you are travelling with colleagues consider sharing with them. If you are traveling on your own, or unable to share with colleagues, reach out to contacts you made in the past, be it a former undergrad friend, or someone you met during a workshop. They may not be in your immediate field anymore, but it might offer added bonuses like the option to reconnect and forge new links.

Hotels can be expensive. Hostels offer an affordable alternative and are bound to be packed with fellow EGU goers. Alternatively, look for beds, rooms and/or apartments via Couchsurfing, AirBnB or similar services.

A week of eating out can take its toll, both on the purse strings and on the waistline! Opt for accommodation options which have kitchenettes or full kitchens. You’ll be able to prepare some meals at your home from home, saving a little cash. Plus, you might even have enough space to entertain old friends and potential new collaborators!

Exploring Vienna

If you need a breather from all the science (and the ECS Lounge isn’t enough), or you have a few days before or after the conference to discover the Austrian capital, keep in mind that the city’s public transport is excellent. Staying outside of the city centre guarantees cheaper accommodation prices, but staying along the U1 underground (ubahn) line ensure quick and easy access to all the main tourist spots and the conference centre to boot!

If you’d rather opt for a more energetic option, then the city’s bike rental scheme might be just the ticket. You need to register for the scheme before you can use the bikes, but with 120 stations across the city, and a 4 hour rental costing 4 Euros, this an environmentally friendly and cheap option definitely worth considering.

Vienna has plenty to offer, from beautiful parks and gardens, through to impressive architecture and a plethora of museums (and sachertorte, of course). Visit Wien Null for a great selection of tips on how to enjoy the city to the full, without breaking the bank. The site has information about arts and culture events, free wifi spots, the best places to go for a bite to eat or a drink, as well as a selection of affordable sport options too.

Vienna Cathedral. Credit: Domeckopol (distributed via pixabay.com)

You should also stay tuned to the blog on the final day of the conference. Our team of press assistants put together a blog post highlighting what’s on in Vienna over the weekend. So if you plan to extend your trip to after the conference, you’ll certainly be able to pick up some pointers. Let last year’s post serve as a starting point.

Finding funding

If your research budget won’t stretch to financing a trip to the General Assembly, don’t despair, there are a number of options you can consider. Though it might be a little late to apply for these for the upcoming conference, keep them in mind for the 2018 edition instead.

Submit your abstract to the conference between October and December and you can apply for financial support to travel to the General Assembly (from the EGU). Grants are competitive, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try- if you want to apply, make sure you follow the criteria carefully, as the evaluation is based on how well you satisfy them. You can also consider participating in the EGU’s OSPP Awards, Imaggeo Photo Contest and Communicate your Science Video Competition (submissions for the 2017 editions of all contests are now closed). Not only will it give your CV a boost if you win, it’ll ensure free registration to the following year’s conference.

Many institutions also offer travel support, especially if you are presenting. Seek advice from your advisor and/or the graduate school (if your institute has one) to learn more about what funds are available. Also, find out if your institute/university is a member of Research Professional, which includes a database of all funding options available, no matter how small, including travel grants.

Similarly, there might be schemes available at the national level, be it from funding bodies or directly from the government. They often fall under the ‘short research stay’ category.

Learned societies, e.g. Institute for Civil Engineering, Institution of Engineering & Technology, often have pots of money set aside to support travel to conferences. They sometimes require you to have been a member for a set amount of time before you can apply for support, but there are many benefits to joining, so it’s a worthy investment.

For more tips and tricks, particularly if you’ve never been to the conference before, don’t forget to check our First Timer’s Guide. While we hope this post goes some way toward making the conference an affordable experience, it is by no means comprehensive.Help us make it better by sharing your suggestions on how to make the most of the General Assembly and Vienna, we’d love to hear from you. Add them in the comments section below and we’ll include them in a similar post in 2018.

By Laura Roberts Artal, EGU Communications Officer, & the EGU’s Early Career Representatives

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists 2017: time to get voting!

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists 2017: time to get voting!

For the fourth year in a row we’re running the EGU Communicate Your Science Video Competition – the aim being for early career scientists to communicate their research in a short, sweet and public-friendly video. Our judges have now selected 4 fantastic finalists from the excellent entries we received this year and it’s time to find the best geoscience communication clip!

The shortlisted videos will be open to a public vote from now until midnight on 27 April; – just ‘like’ the video on YouTube to give it your seal of approval. The video with the most likes when voting closes will be awarded a free registration to the EGU General Assembly 2018.

The finalists are shown below, but you can also catch them in this finalist playlist and even take a seat in GeoCinema – the home of geoscience films at the General Assembly – to see the shortlist and select your favourite.

Please note that only positive votes will be taken into account.

What sounds are in space by Martin Archer. Like this video to vote for it.

Soil moisture and GNSS Explained by Tzvetan Simeonov. Is this your favourite video? Like to vote for it.

Lost rivers by Elisha Teo. If this is your favourite then vote for it here!

A tale of water kidneys and flying doctors by Valentin Heimhuber. Like this video to vote for it!

If watching these videos has inspired you to try your hand at using videos to communicate your research to the public, but you aren’t sure where to start & how to finance the whole enterprise, then why not come along to the finding funding for your science film short course during the 2017 General Assembly? Professional outreach and science filmmakers Dan Brinkhuis (Science Media.nl) and Saskia Medler (77th Parallel Productions) will take you through three different outreach video projects and funding scenarios of varying qualities and their associated costs. They will also give insights on whether the investments paid off by assessing the success of each film in terms of how many views, likes, or even awards they garnered, or how much publicity they generated. Join us in the GeoCinema room (0.90, Yellow Level) on Wednesday the 26th April from 10:30am (CET) onward.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

Imaggeo on Mondays: Concord at midnight

Imaggeo on Mondays: Concord at midnight

The high peaks of the Alps are always awe inspiring, but this midnight shot, captured by Alessandro Lechmann, a PhD student at the Institute of Geological Sciences at the University of Bern, further enhance their fragile beauty. With a warming climate threatening snow availability to even the highest peaks, it has never been more important to appreciate the importance of the glaciers which drape the mountain slopes.

This photograph shows a view from the Jungfraujoch (a saddle in the Bernese Alps, connecting the two four-thousander peaks Jungfrau and Mönch, at an elevation of 3,466 metres above sea level) towards the south-east down the Jungfraufirn (an arm of the Great Altesch Glacier).

Originating amidst three of the most famous mountains of the Swiss Alps (Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau), this glacier flows southwards towards the Concordiaplatz, where it merges with the Ewigschneefäld and the Great Aletschfirn into the Great Aletsch Glacier. Even today, despite reports of receding glaciers in the Alps, it forms the largest and longest Alpine glacier.

In the countries surrounding the Alps, glacial landforms dominate the landscape. From drumlins, moraines (accumulations of glacial debris) and overdeepenings in the foreland to U-shaped valleys (Lauterbrunnen is a marvellous example) and cirques in mountainous regions. Although retreating at rates not seen previously, these glaciers carved the face of central Europe during the last glacial-interglacial cycles.

The building of the railway to the Jungfraujoch research station started in 1896 and was completed in 1912; an impressive feat considering the limited technology before the First World War. Perched precariously 3500 m above sea level, the research station (known for its prominent sphinx observatory), has contributed significantly   to the understanding of the atmospheric sciences, glaciology and cosmic ray physics.

The ridge which the Jungfraujoch is built on, marks the northern margin of the exposed crystalline core of the Alpine orogeny. Interestingly, this mountain ridge, in addition to being a geological boundary, is also a major watershed. Rain that falls north, flows via the Aare into the Rhine, which eventually discharges into the North Sea. Precipitation on the southern flank and melt water from the Jungfraufirn, on the other hand, joins the Rhone in the Valais valley, that ends up in the Mediterranean Sea. This highlights the importance of Alpine glaciers as a water stores which continue to provide water throughout the year.

By Alessandro Lechmann PhD student at the Institute of Geological Sciences at the University of Bern

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/upload/.

GeoEd: Do as I say… AND as I do

GeoEd: Do as I say… AND as I do

Bridging the gap between student and teacher is not always easy. For students, the educator might seem ‘untouchable’ and inaccessible. A sense exacerbated when assignments are set and they turn out to be new, complex and unfamiliar. In this new installment of our GeoEd column, regular guest blogger Rhian Meara of Swansea University, discusses a simple approach to overcome some of these barriers, which can yield surprisingly positive results.

As teachers, lecturers and professors, it’s easy to forget quite how scary it is to be an undergraduate student. Everything is new – lectures, seminars, practical classes, buildings, cities, and friends. Workloads are increasing and expectations are much higher than at school. We can also be guilty of setting and marking coursework based on our present professional standards including expectations that students will automatically understand what is expected of them. The fallout of this is that students can get overwhelmed, scared to ask questions and plough on despite not understanding what is required of them.

During the last few years, I have taught on a second year module which includes a literature review as part of the continuous assessment. Students attend lectures, workshops and tutorials to learn what a literature review is and how to write their own reviews. However, despite the extensive preparation, there is a communication barrier and a task as simple as a literature review (to the staff) is a monumental and incomprehensible task (for the undergraduates). The students have a tendency to get incredibly hung up on the fact that a literature review is “not an essay” rather than understanding what it actually is and how to complete one.

To counteract this, I have started running an extra tutorial session for my students. In this session, I provide the students with copies my own undergraduate literature review that I completed as part of my undergraduate geology degree at the University of Leicester. The review focusses onto emplacement mechanisms for flood lavas both on Earth and across the Solar System, and was completed during the third year of my degree. In the review, I introduce four models that explain how flood lavas are erupted and transported, critique each model and reach a conclusion as to which model, if any, is most accurate. The majority of the students in the group are physical or human geographers and not avid hard-rock igneous petrologists like I was back in the day, so initially the students are quite intimidated by the subject!

As a group, we then read and discuss the literature review to identify the essential components. These include, but are not limited to, a brief but thorough introduction to the subject, headings and sub-headings, relevant images and maps, appropriate use of references and citations, thorough explanations of the subject material, critical evaluations and conclusions.

Immediate comments from the students included bewilderment at how “professionally written” the work was which led to a useful discussion about academic writing, editing and the appropriate use of jargon. The students also felt that despite their initial intimidation of the subject area, that the review gave them a thorough introduction and explanation of the subject and its associated literature – one of the key aims of a literature review.

At the end of the discussion I asked the students to grade the literature review. As a group the students agreed that the work was a very high quality and merited a 1st class mark (˃70%*). In reality the work had been awarded a 2:1 mark (c. 64%*); however as the work was submitted for a 3rd year module the mark can be translated to a 1st class mark at the 2nd year level. The students were able to see therefore what sort of level they should be aiming at with their own work.

When the students submitted their own literature reviews, I was pleased to see that most of the elements that we discussed had been included into their work. Subjects were clearly introduced and explained, relevant images were used to highlight arguments, ideas were critically discussed and logical conclusions were reached.

Feedback from the students noted that the experience of seeing my own work was incredibly useful as it allowed them to see clear examples of similar work. The students now understand what expectations I have for them in the 2nd year of their undergraduate degree based on my own experiences (do as I say, and as I do!). The tutorial also allowed the students to better understand the process of researching and academic writing.

Getting to see and read through a staff member’s work was very informative. It helped me to understand the level at which to pitch my own work and how the use of appropriate figures, even within essays, could improve the overall quality of the piece. I also found that it broke a perceived wall between the complicated published articles and undergraduate work as it showed how the skills I’m learning now can help with more advance writing in the future.”  (Ben, 3rd year student)

Getting an example of a literature review from my tutor was not only useful as a tool, but felt more personal. Allowing me to ask questions I wouldn’t have, if we didn’t have her work as an example.’  (Tom, 2nd year student)

It was a great help to see a good example of a literature review because I had no idea how to even start! I liked the fact that I could refer back to the example for guidance during the process of writing my own literature review, and I believe that I would have had much worse marks without the possibility of seeing an example beforehand.” (Ffion, 2nd year student)

I ran this tutorial last year for the first time and was pleased with the results. This academic year, the original students who are now in their 3rd year have asked to continue the practice as they write their independent research dissertations. During individual and group tutorials I have shown the students my undergraduate research project on the geochemistry of the Siberian Traps lavas and my PhD thesis on tephrochronology in Iceland. Again, feedback from the students has been positive as they appreciate seeing and comparing with their supervisor’s undergraduate work.

The only negative element of this experience was needing to ensure that students did not re-use the same topics for their own projects as this would be considered as plagiarism. However as previously noted, the academic background of the students somewhat precluded this.

Finally, a piece of advice: if you want to share your work with your students, make sure you develop a thick skin! Once the students get going they are surprisingly harsh during the marking and critiquing element of the tutorial!

By Rhian Meara, Physical Geography and Geology Lecturer at Swansea University

* In UK marking schemes, anything given 70% is considered to be of excellent quality.

GeoEd, is a series dedicated to education in the geosciences. If you’d like to share your teaching and educational experiences, anything from formal classroom teaching, through to outreach project ideas, please do get in touch. We always welcome guest contributions to the blog. To pitch an idea for a post, please contact Laura Roberts Artal (the EGU Communication Officer and GeoLog editor) at networking@egu.eu or take a look at our submission page.

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: