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mentoring

Being a mentor at the General Assembly

Being a mentor at the General Assembly

With more than 15,000 participants, 4,700 oral presentations, 11,000 posters and 1,400 PICO presentations, the EGU General Assembly can be an overwhelming experience for any scientist, whether it’s your first time or 10th time attending. However, you can make conference networking a bit easier by signing up for the EGU 2019 Mentoring Programme!

This mentoring scheme aims to facilitate new connections that may lead to long-term professional relationships within the Earth, planetary and space science communities.

Mentees are matched with a scientist who has attended the General Assembly at least two times (mentor). Through this programme, mentees can receive insight on how to navigate the conference, network with conference attendees, and exchange feedback on professional activities and career development.

On the other hand, there are several benefits of being a mentor, including getting to expand your network, trade ideas and share your experience with novice conference attendees, students, and early career scientists.

We’ve asked a few former General Assembly mentors to talk about their experience with the programme and share their highlights. If these interviews inspire you to get involved with our mentoring programme, you can learn more about this initiative, and how to register, here. The deadline to sign up is 31 January 2019.


Stefan Haun, researcher at the Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems, University of Stuttgart, Germany

Stefan Haun’s personal highlight of the programme was his mentee’s motivation to learn and discuss new things every time they met.

What motivated you to take part in this programme as be a mentor?

I remembered my first time in Vienna, with so many impressions, a tough schedule for the week in my pocket and finally I almost missed the important things, such as making new contacts and friends. So I wanted to take the opportunity to get in contact with young people, who are for the first time at the General Assembly and to talk with them about possibilities, not only regarding the conference but also regarding their career and share with them my experiences.

What were some of the highlights of your experience as a mentor?

I have to say right from the start my mentee, Prima, was for the first time at the General Assembly in Vienna. She told me also that this was her first large conference and that she was very excited about it. We met a couple of times during the General Assembly and discussed several topics regarding science, networking and of course also on how to navigate through the Assembly. But my personal highlight was her motivation to learn and discuss new things every time we met.

Did you learn something or benefit from being a mentor in this programme? If so, what?

It was nice to meet Prima, a young and very ambitious person. During the year, there is a lot of workload on our desks and sometimes we almost forget about how exciting research is. And suddenly you meet such a young researcher and this motivates you again and you are reminded what a great job we have.


Nilay Dogulu, PhD candidate at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

“It will be my third time as a mentor. I really enjoy this experience as it also helps widen my knowledge and insights personally,” says Nilay Dogulu.

What motivated you to take part in this programme as a mentor?

Encouragement and guidance are highly essential to academic learning and development of early career scientists (ECS). Even though the value of these is recognized, opportunities offered to ECS remain limited in many places. Being an ECS can be emotionally challenging due to lack of such opportunities on top of extreme pace of learning as well as high levels of uncertainty about the future. Conferences give ECS the opportunity to interact with their colleagues, including peers. However, it usually takes courage to go beyond our limits and explore new insights. Then a little push to make things easier becomes inevitable. Especially if it is the first time attending a very big conference.

The EGU Mentoring Programme at the General Assembly is a beautiful example of how simple actions can lead to yet effective results for many ECS. I decided to take part in it (first as a mentee, then as a mentor) because I was aware of the lack of opportunities in my university and wanted to help other ECS who can benefit from that little push in the best way. It is all about learning, regardless of age, position, experience, nationality, gender. Being open to learning is a wonderful trait, and the EGU Mentoring Programme gives just the perfect opportunity to support this.

What were some of the highlights of your experience as a mentor?

It is amazing how the algorithm that works behind for matching the mentors and mentees. The matches I was involved with so far were just to the point.

Sometimes mentees can feel unconfident and tend to maintain the distance that arise due to differences (age, position, etc.), eventually making them hesitant to actively participate in the mentor-mentee interaction. I see this as a great loss of opportunity. There is no point in choosing to be alone. A small conversation can spark unexpected yet fruitful ideas having the potential to shape our mindset and bringing in new perspectives!

Did you learn something or benefit from being a mentor in this programme? If so, what?

Learning is the most precious experience. Senior scientists, early career scientists… it doesn’t matter how big the difference between is. EGU attendees are all very friendly and happy to support ECS in their learning journey for one week every spring in Vienna.

I look forward to participating in EGU Mentoring Programme for EGU 2019! It will be my third time as a mentor. I really enjoy this experience as it also helps widen my knowledge and insights personally.

Interviews by Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer

Mentoring programme at EGU 2019

Mentoring programme at EGU 2019

With more than 15,000 participants, 4,700 oral presentations, 11,000 posters and 1,400 PICO presentations, all under one roof, the EGU General Assembly can be an overwhelming experience. There is a network of corridors to navigate, as well as a wide range of workshops, splinter and townhall meetings to choose from. With that in mind, we’ve put in place some initiatives to make the experience of those joining us in Vienna for the 1st time a rewarding one.

Especially designed with novice conference attendees, students, and early career scientists in mind, our mentoring programme aims to facilitate new connections that may lead to long-term professional relationships within the Earth, planetary and space science communities. Mentees are matched with a senior scientist (mentor) to help them navigate the conference, network with conference attendees, and exchange feedback and ideas on professional activities and career development.

The EGU will match mentors and mentees prior to the conference, and is also organising meeting opportunities for those taking part in the mentoring programme.

In addition, mentoring pairs are encouraged to meet regularly throughout the week, and again at the end of the week, to make the most of the experience, as well as introduce each other to 3 to 5 fellow colleagues to facilitate the growth of each other’s network.

“Mentoring is an indispensable requirement for growth. Through the mentoring programme I was introduced to Dr Niels Hovius who was a generous mentor during EGU’17. His guidance during the conference enabled my interactions with prominent scientists and to navigate the conference to my maximum potential. I am grateful for this programme and hope it be fruitful for students in this coming year.”

Rheane da Silva (National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India), mentee

Mentoring an EGU novice student was the highlight of my 2017 General Assembly week. To see our elaborate and overwhelmingly large meeting through the eyes of a rookie makes you actively aware of many aspects that you have always taken for granted. To see the excitement in the eyes of a rookie when you take them deep into our organization and show them paths they had not expected to be open to them makes you appreciate all the General Assembly has to offer.

Niels Hovius (GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany), mentor

We anticipate the programme to be a rewarding experience for both mentees and mentors, so we encourage you to sign up by following the link to a short registration form. The details given in the questionnaire will enable us to match suitable pairs of mentors and mentees. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2019.

You’ll find more details about the mentoring programme (including the requirements of the scheme) over on our website.

EGU 2019 will take place from 7 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.

Mentoring programme at EGU 2018

Mentoring programme at EGU 2018

With over 14,000 participants, 4,849 oral presentations and over 11,000 posters, all under one roof, the General Assembly can be an overwhelming experience.  There is a warren of corridors to navigate, as well as a wide range of workshops, splinter and townhall meetings to choose from. With that in mind, we’ve put in place some initiatives to make the experience of those joining us in Vienna for the 1st time a rewarding one.

Especially designed with novice conference attendees, students, and early career scientists in mind, our mentoring programme aims to facilitate new connections that may lead to long-term professional relationships within the Earth, planetary and space science communities.

After a successful trial at last year’s meeting, we are now rolling the scheme out on a larger scale. Mentees are matched with a senior scientist (mentor) to help them navigate the conference, network with conference attendees, and exchange feedback and ideas on professional activities and career development.

The EGU will match mentors and mentees prior to the conference, and is also organising meeting opportunities (at the Sunday ice-breaker and on Monday morning) for those taking part in the mentoring programme.

In addition, mentoring pairs are encouraged to meet regularly throughout the week, and again at the end of the week, to make the most of the experience, as well as introduce each other to 3 to 5 fellow colleagues to facilitate the growth of each other’s network.

“Mentoring is an indispensable requirement for growth. Through the mentoring programme I was introduced to Dr Niels Hovius who was a generous mentor during EGU’17. His guidance during the conference enabled my interactions with prominent scientists and to navigate the conference to my maximum potential. I am grateful for this programme and hope it be fruitful for students in this coming year.”

Rheane da Silva (National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India), mentee

We anticipate the programme to be a rewarding experience for both mentees and mentors, so we encourage you to sing up by following the link to a short registration form. The details given in the questionnaire will enable us to match suitable pairs of mentors and mentees. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2018.

You’ll find more details about the mentoring programme (including the requirements of the scheme) over on our website.

 

EGU 2018 will take place from 08 to 13 April 2017 in Vienna, Austria. For more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2018 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU18 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

 

GeoTalk: Matt Herod on awesome outreach and education

Matt Herod has long been part of the EGU Blog Network, where he writes about all things geochemistry from his base in the University of Ottawa. In this week’s GeoTalk, we had the chance to talk to Matt about all the other science communication activities he’s been up to – from mentoring kids in Canada to speaking science in schools…

This year GeoSphere had its first birthday as part of the EGU Blog Network, but you’ve been sharing science online for longer than that – what got you started?

Awesome question. I was actually studying for my comprehensive exam at the time and needed something to distract me for a little while so I started a blog. I didn’t actually expect to enjoy blogging so much, but once I started writing and engaging with other bloggers and readers I started to get addicted. The real motivation, besides procrastinating, for starting the blog though was that I was deploring the fact that in Canada, and I suspect other parts of the world, geoscience is left out of elementary and high school curricula. Physics, biology and chemistry are covered extremely well, which is great, but geology, the most integrative of the four is generally left out. It is just not taught at all. I found that really bizarre since I think it is very practical for everyone out there to have a basic knowledge of Earth science. I would hear stories and read articles in the news about fracking and climate change, and mining and a whole slew of other environmental Earth science issues that people were up in arms about all over the world and think “if only they understood a bit more about geology they might not get so panicked, or they might react appropriately when something worth panicking about happened.” The people that I spoke with about geology all expressed an interest in learning more, but they just didn’t know where to start. They had all finished high school and university so they weren’t about to pick up a textbook. Ultimately, the real problem was that the desire to learn about geology was there, but not the access. So to help make geology more accessible I started blogging and have enjoyed it ever since.

Meet Matt! (Credit: Matt Herod)

Meet Matt! (Credit: Matt Herod)

As well as science writing, you get out of the office and into the classroom – what do you get up to? 

As far as science outreach goes my two favourite programs have been the Aboriginal Mentorship Program (AMP) and another called Science Travels (ST). AMP is a program run from the University of Ottawa that pairs science grad students up with one or more local aboriginal students. We go to their school and give science talks, run activities and tell them about ourselves. We then mentor them as they prepare a science fair project using our lab facilities to collect data. The students then come to the University of Ottawa for a science fair, lab tours etc. for about three days later in the year. The program involves monthly visits with the students and I participated for two years.

The other program is called Science Travels. ST sends a group of four graduate students to remote northern communities across Canada to give science presentations in local schools throughout the region over the course of a week. I have been on two trips both to northern Ontario. Often the schools that we visit are in native reserves and can often have issues such as alcoholism and drug abuse in the community. I have also participated for four years with Let’s talk science going in to local Ottawa high school and elementary school classrooms to give science talks.  

What are the highlights of working with school students in the university labs? 

The best thing about bringing students into university labs or going to their classroom is the feeling that my colleagues and I are opening someone’s eyes to science and hopefully inspiring them to consider pursuing science as a career. The goal of having actual researchers leave their labs and enter the classroom is to show elementary and high school students that science does not have to be boring and that it can also be a viable career option. By having researchers present the science it helps to bring validity to the presentation, but also makes something that might seem like a silly science demo more applied and accessible. Bringing students into our labs is also great. It is a cool experience explaining how the “black box” sitting on that bench over there can count atoms and even the most hardened “cool kid” softens when you bring them face to face with a mass spectrometer. Also, things that we take for granted like custom glassware or an oven that can reach 1000 degrees is completely new to these students and it is an eye-opening experience for them and us to teach them about how we use the tools in our labs to answer the big questions about the Earth. FYI showing off a Scanning Electron Microscope might be the best lab tour activity ever…or a flume, and I can’t wait to show of our new Accelerator Mass Spectrometer in a few months, that’ll really blow their minds!

Sharing the excitement of science in schools. (Credit: Matt Herod)

Sharing the excitement of science in a school. (Credit: Matt Herod)

And what are the challenges?

The biggest challenge with science outreach is finding the time. When we are in our own little research bubbles it can often be hard to escape and do something else, and if we do, it is easy to feel a bit guilty that we are not doing research. However, the key is to simply realise that getting out there and teaching science is totally worthwhile and that the work will always be there when we get back…at least that’s how I rationalise it. Preparing presentations and activities can also be pretty time consuming, but there are some great websites (e.g. www.earthlearningidea.com) out there with science activities for kids and if you are part of an organisation like Let’s Talk Science lots of pre-made kits exist that cover a wide range of topics. It is always nice to add a bit of personal experience to talks and presentations though and a good story can really help make the presentation memorable.

Do you have any top tips for scientists that want to work with school kids?

The best piece of advice I can give for anyone that wants to get involved in science outreach is try to find an organisation to work with. Don’t try and go it alone. Find a group that has laid the groundwork and made the connections and start there. The time commitment is as much or as little as you would like to give and the rewards for engaging in outreach and working in your community far outweigh any lost work time. Not only that, it is a great way to practice your speaking and explaining skills in front of a non-critical audience. Getting up at a conference to give a talk is nerve-racking enough even if you are comfortable with public speaking let alone if you have not given that many talks before. My last tip is don’t overthink it. If you go to a classroom and give a talk don’t worry about being perfect. In my experience the students and teachers are too happy to have a visitor, especially one who has experience in research, to try and critique every little aspect of your presentation and activity. The best thing you can do is go in, give your presentation with enthusiasm and enjoy it!

Had your fill of sci comm chat? Find out about the latest geochemical research over at GeoSphere: blogs.egu.eu/geosphere