GeoLog

Early Career Scientists

EGU 2019: How to make the most of your time at the General Assembly without breaking the bank

EGU 2019: 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 15,000 participants at the conference last year, the race for places to stay and transport to get to Vienna is fierce. This year, not only are we expecting Earth, space and planetary scientists to descend on the city for EGU 2019, but also more than 40,000 people will participate in the the Vienna City Marathon, on Sunday, 7 April, resulting in many hotels being fully reserved the night before. 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 80 km 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 five 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.

An evening view of Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Photo Credit: Max Pixel)

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. Not only are they often more affordable, but also often more environmentally friendly travel options compared to flying. To reduce carbon emissions, we encourage participants to travel by train to Vienna when possible.

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 General Assembly 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

Keep an eye out for the CityBike stations around Vienna. The first hour of your ride is free of charge! (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

If you need a breather from all the science, 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 (U-bahn) 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 more than 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.

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 General Assembly, 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 2020 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 and the Imaggeo Photo Competition. 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 General Assembly 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 2020.

By Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer, & the EGU’s Early Career Representatives

EGU 2019 will take place from 07 to 12 April 2019 in Vienna, Austria. For more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2019 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

Get involved: become an early career scientist representative

Get involved: become an early career scientist representative

Early career scientists (ECS) make up a significant proportion of the EGU membership and it’s important to us that your voices get heard. To make sure that happens, each division appoints an early career scientists representative: the vital link between the Union and the ECS membership.

After tenure of two or four years, a few of the current ECS Representatives are stepping down from their post at the upcoming General Assembly. That means a handful of divisions are on the hunt for new representatives:

If you are looking for an opportunity to become more involved with the Union, here is your chance! Read on to discover what it takes to be an early career scientists representative.

What is involved?

The ECS representatives gather feedback from students and early career researchers, so that we can take action to improve our early career scientists activities at the EGU General Assembly and maintain our support for early career scientists throughout the year.

ECS Representatives meet virtually (roughly) every quarter and in person at the General Assembly in April. During the meetings issues such as future initiatives, how to get more of the ECS membership involved with the Union and how ECS activities can be improved, are discussed. The representatives are also heavily involved in the running of ECS-specific activities at the General Assembly, such as the icebreaker, ECS Forum and the Networking & ECS Zone.

Within each scientific division, representatives can also take on a variety of tasks, according to their areas of expertise and interest. These can include (but aren’t limited to): organising events for early career scientists at our annual General Assembly, outreach to early career scientists and the wider public through social media or a division blog and much more.

To get more of a feel for what is involved, read this blog post by the former Geodesy Division ECS representative, Roelof Rietbroek, who gives an insight into his experiences while in the role.

As well as giving you the platform to interact with a large network of researchers in your field, being an early career scientists representative is a great opportunity to build on your communications skills, boost your CV and influence the activities of Europe’s largest geoscientific association.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next early career scientists representative for your division, or have any questions about getting involved in the Union, please contact the EGU Communications Officer at networking@egu.eu.

Application deadlines vary from divisions to division, but new representatives will be appointed before or during the upcoming General Assembly in Vienna (07-12 April). We recommend you get in touch with us ASAP if you are interested in applying for any of the vacancies. You can also keep in touch with all ECS-specific news from your division by signing up to the mailing list.  For more details about how ECS representatives are appointed and the internal structure of individual divisions take a look at the website.

EGU 2019 will take place from 07 to 12 April 2019 in Vienna, Austria. For more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2019 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

Do’s and don’ts for attending your first General Assembly

Do’s and don’ts for attending your first General Assembly

The prospect of attending a large international conference during your PhD can be really daunting, especially if you’re only in your second year and in the early stages of data collection. That’s why I hadn’t planned on going to one until my third year. But thanks to winning some travel funds, this time last year I was preparing to attend the EGU General Assembly 2018 in Vienna, a scary but exciting opportunity that I am so glad I took.

I received lots of great advice before I went, but also found out things when I was there that I wish I had known in advance. So here is my list of do’s and dont’s for attending your first General Assembly.

DO
Go on fieldtrips and events.

In 2018 the EGU Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology & Volcanology (GMPV) Division organised a pre-conference fieldtrip to the Bohemian Massif in Austria, specifically targeted towards early career researchers. Not being the type to pass up a chance to get into the field, I signed up right away. This was a great opportunity to get to meet new people, and not long after we bundled into minibuses and started driving into the Austrian countryside we were chatting away pleasantly.

Making friends before the conference means that you have a big group of friendly faces that you know when you’re at the conference, a vital crutch when giving presentations!

There was also a GMPV mid-conference social event, involving what else but tango lessons! Even though I didn’t get up and dance myself, it was a fun and interesting event and another good way to meet other researchers.

To find out about such events you can look for pre/post conference workshops in the session programme, keep an eye on the division social media accounts, and make use of the resources available for early career researchers both before and at the conference itself.

Excellent example of domino boudinage on show near Spitz, during the pre-conference fieldtrip on “Deformation in the lower crust”. (Credit: Stacy Phillips)

DON’T
Be scared to talk to people at their posters.

It still takes a little time for me to stop feeling anxious and go up to people at their posters, especially if they’re eminent researchers. One way to calm the nerves is to find a poster you are interested in that already has someone there and tag along in their discussion. This gives you a little time to read the poster and decide if you want to ask a question. You could also just ask a presenter standing by their poster to give you a run-through of their work. Build up your confidence and you’ll be talking to the big-shots in no time!

DO
Sign up for the mentoring programme.

The hardest people to meet at the General Assembly are the well-established researchers in your field, but the EGU Mentoring Programme is a great way to get to those people. You are typically assigned to a mid-career researcher in your area, and you are encouraged to meet up with them at least at the Sunday Ice Breaker event and Monday morning planning meeting, if not continually throughout the week. I signed up for this and found it very helpful. Through my mentor I was introduced to lots of other people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Although we saw each other a number of times during the week as we were attending the same talks, I didn’t take full advantage of my mentor and I wish I had. So, sign up and chat to your mentor often! The deadline to register for the programme is 31 January.

DO
Plan what you want to go see.

The General Assembly mobile app is an essential scheduling tool. It’s really easy to use and it allows you to create your own personal programme by ‘starring’ events of interest. I also found it very helpful to have the list of abstracts on hand and see what presentations are coming up next when sitting in on a session. I highly recommend downloading it and sorting out your plan of attack in advance! EGU will be releasing the General Assembly mobile app closer to the conference, so stay tuned!

DON’T
Try and be in multiple places at once.

One disadvantage of creating your own programme through the app is that you end up ‘starring’ several talks only to then find out that you can’t see them all! If you plan to chop and change rooms, leaving one session to see a different talk and then coming back, it’s very possible those two rooms will be at opposite ends of the venue. And the conference centre is HUGE! Travel time between rooms should not be underestimated (hence why venue staff can be seen zipping about on scooters!). Also, given that it’s likely one of those sessions will be running a little ahead of time or late, chances are you won’t make all the talks you want to attend. Keep it simple and try to stay in one room at a time, or at least sit near the door and give yourself a couple of talks leeway so you don’t miss out on the science!

That feeling when you realise you’ve missed the talk you ran across the conference centre for… (Part of a water fountain in central Vienna). (Credit: Stacy Phillips)

DO
Go to something you wouldn’t normally go to.

If you find yourself with some spare time, you can use the General Assembly app to see what sessions and talks are happening at that moment. Go listen to a talk in a completely separate field; you’ll learn something new and see how different people give presentations! Get involved in something that you haven’t tried before. You could wander from a talk on metamorphic petrology, to a poster on the strength of oil-bearing reservoir rocks, to a geoscience-themed games night! The General Assembly has it all!

DON’T
Spend all your time at the conference centre.

A consistent piece of advice I received was to not spend the entire week at the conference centre. There will be days or mornings where there will be nothing relevant to you. So, take the chance to explore the wonderful city of Vienna! Go on a walking tour, experience an authentic Viennese coffee house, or visit one of the many museums. Then when you return to the conference you will be refreshed and ready to absorb more of the latest science EGU has to offer. And you’ll have a handy conversation starter! If you really can’t tear yourself away from the science though, go grab some food from the small supermarket at the venue and at least have lunch in the park!

EGU attendees get reduced admission to Vienna Museum of Natural History, although we didn’t have time to make it out of the fossil and mineral section! Here’s a fabulous sample of kyanite, my favourite mineral! (Credit: Stacy Phillips)

DO
Make use of social media.

If social media is your thing, the #EGU19 conference hashtag is a great way to stay current with meeting updates as well as connect with people and find out about their work. There are lots of TV screens throughout the venue that have a live feed of the hashtag on Twitter, and seeing your tweet up there for a couple minutes of fame is pretty cool. It’s also really useful. My poster was on the Friday afternoon and I was worried that no one would be around to see it! So, I put up my poster early on the Friday morning, tweeted a photo of me next to it, and then stood by my poster whenever I had a free moment. Someone who I wanted to talk to but who wasn’t around for the poster session saw my tweet and found me. We had a really fruitful discussion, all because of one photo and 240 characters.

Presenting my poster was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to talk to people who could help guide my future work. (Credit: Stacy Phillips)

DO
Wear comfortable shoes.

I said above, I stood by my poster for most of the Friday. I was wearing comfortable shoes, but my feet were so sore the following day! (That may have also had something to do with the dancing at the conveners’ party…) You’ll be doing a lot of walking at the General Assembly and footwear is not something you should neglect!

DON’T
Bring big bulky bags.

You will be packing your bag each morning and convincing yourself that you need your laptop, your massive notebook and those papers you need to read. Sooner or later your bag will be bursting at the seams, and by the end of the day you’ll realise that you didn’t use any of the things you brought along. If you have and can make do with just your smartphone or a small tablet, then bring those (plus chargers!) and a small notebook (put in your name and details, in case you lose it).

DO
Bring a water bottle or reusable coffee cup.

Geoscientists should all be singing from a similar hymn sheet when it comes to saving the environment. So, it was great to see the abundant water fountains throughout the conference venue. Though I was surprised by the lack of re-usable coffee cups on show. There are regular coffee breaks to sustain everyone, and although there are recyclable bins where you can dispose of your cups, you could should just bring your own!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things you should and shouldn’t do, and it doesn’t cover every aspect of what to expect at your first General Assembly, but hopefully it is a helpful guide. If you’re preparing for your first EGU meeting, you will probably be a little nervous, as I was this time last year. But I am confident that you’ll have a great week, talk about cutting-edge science, and make a wonderful array of connections, as I did in 2018. Good luck and feel free to ask questions or get in touch with me! You can find me on Twitter @Shtacy_Phillips. and do come say hi to me at EGU 2019!

EGU 2018 in numbers. See you in 2019! (Credit: Stacy Phillips)

by Stacy Phillips, PhD student at Open University, United Kingdom

Stacy Phillips is a 2nd year PhD student at the Open University. She is investigating the role of crustal melting in the Himalaya by looking at kyanite leucogranites from Bhutan, Eastern Himalaya. This involves a combination of petrology, geochemistry, geochronology and P-T modelling to understand how these melts formed. Her interests in science communication have led to the creation of the Fieldwork Diaries podcast and she is an avid user of Twitter (@Shtacy_Phillips) for science communication (and the odd rant about sports). When not busy doing or communicating science you can find her taking photos of Lego minifigures (on Instagram @ShtacyP).

EGU 2019 will take place from 07 to 12 April 2019 in Vienna, Austria. For more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2019 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

 

GeoTalk: Alena Ebinghaus, Early Career Scientist Representative

GeoTalk: Alena Ebinghaus, Early Career Scientist Representative

In addition to the usual GeoTalk interviews, were we highlight the work and achievements of early career scientists, this month we’ll also introduce one of the (outgoing) Division early career scientist representatives (ECS). The representatives are responsible for ensuring that the voice of EGU ECS membership is heard. From organising short courses during the General Assembly, through to running division blogs and attending regular ECS representative meetings, their tasks in this role are varied. Their work is entirely voluntary and they are all active members of their research community, so we’ll also be touching on their scientific work during the interview.

Today we are talking to Alena Ebinghaus, ECS representative for the Stratigraphy, Sedimentology and Palaeontology (SSP) Division. Alena has been in post for more than 20 months, but her term comes to an end at the 2019 General Assembly. Interested in getting involved with EGU and its activities for early career scientists? Consider applying for one of the vacant representative positions

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

I was fascinated by geology long before I started studying, and it was volcanoes that got me hooked initially. Being originally from Hagen in Germany, I went to study geology and palaeontology at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn, from which I obtained a Diploma (=MSc) degree in 2010. I continued with a PhD at the University of Aberdeen, in the UK, where I focused my research to inter-lava drainage and plant ecosystems in the Columbia River Flood Basalt Province (USA). I haven’t settled my studies in volcanology after all, but sedimentological and palynological (largely pollen and spores) studies set in a volcanic environment was the perfect balance for me.

I am still based in Aberdeen, and since 2014 employed as a postdoctoral researcher. Now my main research projects are the assessment of sedimentary and plant ecological response patterns to rapid climate change of the past. I look at sedimentary rock records from the Cretaceous–Paleogene  Boltysh meteorite impact crater (Ukraine) and the Palaeocene–Eocene Bighorn Basin (Wyoming). These two locations were witness to rapid warming events and hold geological clues to how the environment responded to these changes.

Alena at the Palouse Falls, Washington State. (Credit: Lucas Rossetti)

Although we touch upon it in the introduction of this post: what does your role as ECS representative involve?

The ECS representative is the anchor point between the early career researchers and later career researchers. Within the SSP community I communicate the matters and interests of the ECS to the SSP division and the wider EGU community, and help to connect the work and engagements of early stage scientists with those of a later career stage. With the help of a small group of other ECS, I coordinate and take care of the SSP social media Facebook and Twitter accounts. I also try to set up social events and help organize short courses during the annual General Assembly (GA). In the particular case of the SSP division, I have coordinated the set-up of the division’s weblog.

Why did you put yourself forward for the role?

I was keen to get involved and integrate with the SSP community and the EGU in order to widen my academic network and to become a more interactive GA participant. The GA is a large conference – I wanted to have the opportunity to meet a lot of people and help organize events rather than being a somewhat passive attendant.

What is your vision for the Stratigraphy, Sedimentology and Palaeontology Division ECS community and what do you hope to achieve in the time you hold the position?

I see the SSP growing further and particularly the ECS community becoming more inter-active with organizing SSP-specific scientific and social events similar to some of the larger divisions within the EGU. The first couple of times I joined the GA I felt rather lost, and was not quite aware of ECS work, nor did I meet other SSP ECS. Bringing the SSP ECS community together and making their engagements more visible so to better approach other ECS is one of main objectives.

What can your ECS Division members expect from the Stratigraphy, Sedimentology and Palaeontology Division in the 2019 General Assembly?

First of all, the SSP division again offers again a great range of scientific sessions, but I am also planning a couple of social get-togethers which shall be particularly interesting for those attending the GA for the first time. As every year, there will be the opportunity to meet the SSP president and to join the division’s meeting which is open to all SSP members. With a group of other academics, I will be convening a short course to discuss the balance of work and personal life in science – a topic addressed to researchers of all career stages within SSP and naturally beyond.

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

For everyone being interested in SSP work, it would be best to either get in touch with myself, via email or Facebook or the SSP president. We will be more than happy to assist and answer any questions.

Interview by Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer