AGU times

AGU times

The first hybrid AGU meeting has everything one expects from the AGU – a long line to the registration desk and, a mile walk between the two ends of the conference hall, a large exhibit hall with NASA and their most-desirable calendars at the nexus, and our favorite poster hall to “network” with others – but with an added confusion, palatable emptiness, and no beer in sight! This week is a short blog-post by Aaron Van Alstine, writing his experience on the AGU fall meeting as a first-time visitor to the conference.

Poster Hall. (clockwise from the top right): Aaron walking through the poster hall on the first day after registration, a stroll through the poster hall in the morning, participants entering for the poster session around 4 pm, and Marina Monaco presenting her poster.

(left) Registration line at 8 am on the first day of the meeting. (right) In-person and virtual attendees during an oral session.

I underestimated the Geophysicists, and I’m sorry for that. The water’s often a lot deeper than it looks from the surface. When I rocked up to the Convention Center in New Orleans, I was not prepared to see that you folks had rented out the entire building; much less that you’d be able to pull a crowd big enough to fill it.

And yet, there you were. Hundreds of faces, from bright-eyed undergrads to confident grad students to grizzled, plaid-attired faculty, milling about like a school of socially distanced and well-masked anchovies. The masks were a smart move, especially since those first few dozen people to burst their way into the Exhibit Hall seemed to be frothing rabidly at the mouth. If I’d known ahead of time the quality and quantity of freebies that were being tossed into the crowd like Mardi Gras beads in that room, I might have thrown elbows to join them at the front of the line. There was, of course, plenty to go around, but as people snatched branded totes and pens and stickers, the Black Friday energy was palpable.

In any case, thank you for showing me that your academic world is bigger (and more plaid) than I as a layperson had ever imagined. Thanks for taking the time to explain to me that a radiosonde isn’t a Swedish punk band, and also for not judging the way I devoured that bowl of jambalaya. And thanks for the branded swag.

See you all next year!

Arushi Saxena is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Florida. She is interested in developing self-consistent global mantle flow models to best-match the surface plate motions.

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