The Sassy Scientist – To fly or to couch surf

The Sassy Scientist – To fly or to couch surf

One thing that the COVID pandemic has left us is the flexibility to attend a conference either in person or virtually. This has been the case for the last three editions of the EGU GA. As the deadline for an expected conference approaches, we face the dilemma of whether to attend it in person or opt for the virtual experience. Louis is asking:

Should I fly to attend this conference or should I watch it from the comfortness of my couch?

Dear Louis,

I presume you are asking this question because you have the means to attend the conference. Whether it is because of financial resources or a well-deserved travel grant, good for you chap! But let’s consider this: is flying the only option? While gazing at that dramatic mountain landscape or those meandering rivers from your (not so) comfortable window seat has its utter charm, what about your climate footprint? Trains or buses are more environmentally-friendly options. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to impress your geo-friends with tales of the mountains you skied or trekked last winter. However, if the conference is on another continent a bus or a train will get you nowhere close. Opting for a transatlantic ship voyage might seem idyllic for a month-long writing retreat and getting your paper/thesis/proposal done, but practical constraints like time and budget might play against this.

Here is the crucial question: What do you want to get from this conference? Are you only interested in catching up with the state-of-the-art in your field? Do other (personal/work) responsibilities prevent you from attending the entire conference? Would a few key sessions suffice? If the answer is yes, then maybe the virtual option is for you. However, a word of caution: you might end up with a browser tab frenzy with simultaneous sessions opened at the same time, similar to TV channel/Reels surfing on a Sunday night (and your question hints at a rather inviting sofa that might tempt you into a peaceful nap)

Consider this: beyond attending talks, do you want to meet people, boost your networking skills (a daunting word for us introverts) and make the most from poster sessions? If so, the in-person meeting is likely your best bet. Virtual poster sessions have so far been sketchy, with in-person attendants opting not to be staring at a screen or navigate virtual conference rooms when, instead, they can enjoy free complimentary beverages elsewhere.

After doing this introspective exercise, you’ll know what to do. Now fly (wherever you choose to). 


Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

Avatar photo
I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>