#AGU14 – Friday (What I Learned)

There is way to much to even say after this fantastic conference, so I have to boil it down to three points. This is just a snippit of what I learned from AGU 2014:

1. Scientists want to share their science (whether or not they know how): After attending sessions all week and presenting on Monday, I have encountered a lot of scientists who want to share their research, whether it be through public outreach, journalistic stories or blogging their own ideas.

From my poster, I encouraged scientists to use what’s going on in popular culture as a springboard for spreading ideas. The holiday season is coming up, so how can you relate your science to that? What will be going on in space that day? How can you cut down on fossil fuel emissions during holiday travel? What will the weather be like? This method can be applied to any event. Think of what the public is thinking about – then relate to it.

2. PLUTO IS AWESOME: I say, a lot, that I don’t understand science. I really want to but my brain just doesn’t work that way! I attended a pre-screening of a movie about Pluto on Thursday, and I have been thinking about it ever since. How do scientists know what’s out there when they’ve never been that far? How did they navigate the spacecraft 3 billion miles away and know its exact path! More importantly, how do they navigate the thing at all! For a refresher, NASA sent the “New Horizons” spacecraft to Pluto in 2006. It will finally make it’s way to Pluto for data-collection in July 2015. Next year has been dubbed the “Year of Pluto.”

Takeaway from this lesson: I am amazed at what planetary scientists can do. And I still do not get it.

Photo by Nicky Ouellet
Dr. G and I! Photo by Nicky Ouellet

3. The AGU is even more awesome: Networking, networking and more networking. I was able to meet my science writing idol, Liz Neeley, and even take a selfie with her. Meeting Kara Rodean and Ali Branscombe of AGU face-to-face helped me realize what cool jobs they have and how much work they put into the fall meeting! Presenting in the Outstanding Student Paper Award makes me proud of all the student scientists at AGU.

Helping Kimmie Bowen (Dr. G‘s student) get through the meeting reminded me how far I have come as a presenter and student. Tweeting with the student volunteers all week gave me a new appreciation for Twitter (mostly that I’m obsessed with it, still). Meeting up with Dr. G (for the first time since AGU last year!) has engrained in me the important impact she has had on my life from the first time I took her class in 2010 at Penn State Brandywine.

Lastly, I’m thankful for the people at AGU who help convene sessions, especially the keynote talks! Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is by far the most inspiring cabinet member I have ever encountered (okay, she’s the only one), and I’m happy AGU was able to make that happen. Stay tuned for my AGU blog post on that one later!

Overall, I am thankful to have made so many amazing connections at AGU, both new and old. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to come to AGU for the last three years in a row, and that San Francisco is the greatest city on the west coast! Until next time, AGU!

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