Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The mass exodus of geoscientists to Vienna... by Prof Melanie Leng

Every year around this time a European Geosciences Union (EGU) is held in Vienna, Austria. The weeklong conference brings together geoscientists from all over the world to discuss their latest findings in earth, planetary and space sciences. Melanie Leng attended EGU for the first time this year and here tells us about her experience.

The EGU is a hugely popular destination for geoscientists across the world to get together, discuss and present their latest findings, hold multinational workshops, attend town hall meetings & receive training – all within 5 (long) days. The first problem is the sheer volume of activities and events. For example the presentations alone are divided into 25 disciplines each with dedicated presentations (15 minute talking slots) and poster sessions each day. There are plenaries, award ceremonies, keynote lectures, division meetings, editorial board meetings and short courses (for the truly exhausted there is even a geological cinema)… It is, I admit, a little overwhelming (especially for my first attendance) but all accessible by a Personal Programme app available on all good smart phones!
For me it was a great conference once I got organised with my essential programme including time and place of my talk on carbon stored in Greenland lakes. I was able to meet with international collaborators, hold workshops and brainstorm some of our ongoing projects. For example we were able to put together a working group of researchers interested in the climate history of the South Georgia Island (sub Antarctic) which was attended by people from the UK, Germany, Norway and Sweden – some of whom we had never met before, despite being interested in the same research. Through this core group we think we can bring everyone together and make our individual efforts collaborative at the International scale, an outcome that will surely speed our science impact.

Overall there were 28 BGS staff at EGU, everything from the science of soils, landslides, carbon capture and storage, environmental change, geochronology and archaeology. The meeting was so big (12,000 delegates) I didn’t get to see much of anyone as we were all in on different sessions. Hopefully everyone had a useful week and look out for our research papers to come later this year.
By Prof Melanie Leng is a Science Director in Geochemistry at the British Geological Survey and University of Nottingham.

More info on EGU, and their twitter @EuroGeosciences

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