Joining a Professional Scientific Society
Professional scientific societies are a great way to network, learn about new science, and gain access to a wide range of financial support, including conference discounts, travel awards, and even research funds. Professional societies typically have highly discounted student rates for membership. Membership is often required to take advantage of the funding opportunities.
The E3 REU will cover the cost of one society membership that you sign up for during the year of your participation. Here is a sampling of major scientific societies to check out.
Attending a Conference
Scientific conferences can be a lot of fun and very energizing, but they can also be overwhelming and intimidating. Here are some suggestions for attending a conference:
- If there is someone you’d really like to meet, don’t rely on a chance meeting. Write to them ahead of time and set a time to get coffee or a meal. Come prepared to discuss your work and theirs.
- While it can be tempting to try to race between concurrent sessions to see every talk that looks interesting, that often doesn’t work well in practice. Inevitably, at least one of your sessions will run late and with travel time, you end up seeing 8-10 minutes of six different 15 minute talks, which is rarely satisfying. Try to find sessions where you are willing to stay for at least half the session and pay attention to the map – how far apart are those concurrent sessions that you want to run between? Sometimes it’s the talks you were just “sitting through” to see the next one that turn out to be a revelation.
- If you are speaking, stick to time! Don’t be that speaker who gets everyone else off schedule. If you’re moderating, be aggressive with speakers and with question time. Sometimes there just isn’t time for questions!
- Almost every meeting now has published codes of conduct. Familiarize yourself with the code and who to talk to if issues arise. Remember, while we all like to have fun at meetings, this is still a professional event and moderation is key.
Advice on How to Make the Most of a Scientific Conference
- Science Next blog, 10 Tips to Make the Most of Scientific Conferences!
- Science Magazine, How to Get the Most Out of Attending Conferences
- PLOS Blogs, How to Get the Most Out of a Scientific Conference
Finding Funding to Attend a Conference
The REU program provides some funding to attend a conference, although it is limited. Most societies also have funding to support students, so be sure to thoroughly explore those websites. Typically, funding is only available if you are giving at least a poster (i.e., you have to submit an abstract to the meeting where you are the presenting author).
Resources for Applying to Graduate School
Applying to graduate school is a very large topic and we are still developing our resources on the subject. For now, here are some good questions to start with and sites to check out:
- What kinds of science are you interested in pursuing? Start with a literature search to identify people doing research in your areas of interest and google to see what institutions, departments and graduate programs they are associated with. Often faculty are associated with more than one program.
- Are your target programs based on Rotations or Direct Admission? In the former, you are admitted largely based on your grades, letters of recommendation and test scores, and you do “rotations” – short (4-6 week) projects – in 3-4 labs during your first year to figure out who you want to work with. In the latter, you are admitted specifically to work with a given faculty member. While it is always a good idea to contact the faculty you are interested in ahead of time, it is especially critical for Direct Admission programs. You will not be admitted to a Direct Admission program unless the faculty member supports your admission.
- As just stated, it is always a good idea to contact your prospective advisor early in the admission process (meaning early-to-mid fall as applications to US programs are due Dec. 1). Are they taking students in this round of admission? Maybe they already have four students and are about to rotate in as department Chair so they can’t possibly take more. What direction is their lab going in? Maybe the experiments they did two years ago that you loved are no longer funded and they are going in a different direction. Reach out to them with an email that is tailored to their lab and demonstrates that you’ve thought about their science. Find a time to chat by skype or phone. You might even offer to give your poster via Skype or Zoom.
- You don't have to go straight from undergraduate to graduate school. Many people take a few years off to work as a technician and develop their skill sets as well as their academic interests. Check out university job sites and you will find advertised technician positions. You can also write directly to labs you’re interested in to see if they might have any available positions.
- Web-based Resources