Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lessons from conference organizing

If one is organizing a session for postdocs and grad students to talk speak, one should
  • Be aware that 9 half hour talks in a day is very intense.
  • Never hold up the session for the benefit for one or two people, no matter how "importnat" they may appear to be. It turns out that this is just disrespectful of everyone else's time
  • Try to arrange it in a community of supportive, inquisitive, engaged scientists who promote the culture of asking speakers questions in general. (This was awesome). 
  • Be careful in how the allocation of who speakes in which session, and who gets promoted out of the youg people's session to teh adult scientist session to avoid feelings of being ghettoized.
  • Wine and cheese afterwards never hurts.
I think on the whole, it went fairly well.


  1. mmhhh, wine and cheese (=
    I never was on a conference whith a special postdoc/grad student session. What's the benefit of that? We just sometimes have undergrad student sessions, where they can give the first big talk in their life in a more or less protected yet professional environment - at least as long all attneding professors realize that its a students session (=

  2. The host institute has "promoting young researchers" as part of its mandate. Thus the organizers were able to get funding specifically allocated for "young researchers." They chose to spend it on room and board for a lot of "young speakers." In an ideal world, I don't think this is the best format to promote postdoc/grad student work. Given the funding situation, it may or may not have been the best decision. I'm not terribly happy about certain aspects of how the session turned out. On the other hand, I haven't given it enough thought after the event to come up with a better solution.