To tweet or not to tweet: why use social media?

I’ve recently been bitten by the twitter bug.

 

A little birdie told me.

I’ve had an account for years (Twitter says since 2011), but I’ve only started using the social media platform in the last couple of months. A recent conference here in Montreal had a big social media push, and several of my friends and colleagues are tweeters, so I tried my hand at it. I have since been posting fairly regularly. Not only have I learned that live tweeting is a lot harder than it looks, but I’ve also learned that twitter is a pretty awesome tool. Here are some of the things I think are the most useful about it:

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Small World: Conference Season Begins

Last week I attended the Genomes to Biomes meeting, held right here in beautiful downtown Montréal. This was the first ever joint meeting of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution-Société canadienne d’écologie et d’écolution (CSEE/SCEE), the Canadian Society of Zoologists-Société candadienne de zoologie (CSZ/SCZ) and the Society of Canadian Limnologists-Société canadienne de limnologie (SCL). A lot of acronyms for one meeting!

So what does one do at a scientific meeting? Well, for the most part, you talk.

G2B_Sucrerie

After the talks comes more talking. The closing banquet of Genomes to Biomes, at the Sucrerie de la Montagne, May 29, 2014.

 

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Three weeks of travel, networking and fish & chips (II)

After four days in London, it was suddenly time to switch gears – time to get into an academic frame of mind, time to spend more time reading lengthy articles than sorting through hundreds of pictures, and time to venture out of my comfort zone and network as much as possible, rather than being perfectly content wandering through a city where not a single person knew my name.

I tucked my London ticket into the zippered pocket of my backpack and pulled out the ticket I needed next. I was off to Bangor, Wales – a place I knew nothing about, except that it was a University town, and that some amazing bilingualism and neurolinguistic research is going on over there.

Photo by Kristina Kasparian

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Getting the most out of academic conferences

In my field, the first few months of the fall term represent “conference season”. Last year I went to my first entomology conference as a PhD student. This year I’m upping the ante considerably: I’m giving a total of 4 talks at three conferences (one is provincial, one national and one international). Larger conferences are pretty darned fun and full of awesome brain-candy. In addition to the beer and free food and hotel rooms and t-shirts and field trips and bookslighter, more social aspects, they also provide excellent opportunities to interact with people in your field and to learn about exciting new research.

A plenary talk at the 2010 ESC conference (Photo by Rick West)

I’m now at what I consider to be a fairly crucial stage of my PhD, in terms of completing projects I’ve started and developing quick additional projects to round out my thesis. As such, I’m considering this conference tour to be (potentially) very important.

I’ve read some blog posts in the last year or so that provided students some sound advice for maximizing the conference experience. One idea that I’ve come across has stuck with me: have a focus. I think this can apply to any number of things the conference-goer might wish to accomplish. (more…)

Hobbies can teach you how to have a life and can yield unexpected professional benefits

The summer is quickly winding to a close, and a shiny new fall term is just around the corner. This year promises to be extremely busy – I’m attending three conferences, have plans for two (or three!) more manuscripts, will be TAing two courses, and there’s an absolute pile of beetles still screaming for my attention. Add to that my online activities and the other time-consuming miscellany of academia, and this geek’s schedule is looking pretty darned full! (Note to advisor: yes, I will get some research done too, promise!)

I’m sure you all often find yourselves in similar situations. I’m also willing to bet that many of you have hobbies and personal interests that you wish you could spend more time pursuing, but often feel obligated to leave to the end of the “to do” list since it’s not “real work”.

I would argue that it’s not only important, but also necessary, to carve out a bit of time to do these things that make you happy. Academics (and students) have a terrible tendency to have one-track (tenure-track?) minds: it’s all research, all the time. It can turn into a viscous and chronic bout of workaholism, leading to dissatisfaction, stress, depression and ultimately burnout.

I think that the grad student years are a great time to practice the arts of time management, priority-setting, and even the very difficult skill of saying “no” to things that maybe aren’t all that interesting or important to you,  so that you can learn how to have a life in spite of your academic obligations.

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