My 1st scientific conference, Junior year

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by Taylor Heuermann (CLAS ’19, MS ’20, Biology)

Thanks to travel funding I received from Villanova’s Center for Undergraduate Research, I was able to attend the Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology conference in San Francisco, California, in early January 2018.

This was my first time attending a scientific conference, and I had amazing opportunities while I was there. I was able to see a plenary lecture from Carl Zimmer, a renowned science communicator with articles published in New York Times. I attended several talks, which was wonderful not only because the content of the talks themselves was interesting, but also because it gave me the opportunity to pick up tips for how to give my own talks on my research in the future. One of my favorite events was the symposium on how to communicate science through narrative, which featured speakers who have worked for Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks, the Jurassic Park/World franchise, the Smithsonian, and a company that connects filmmakers with scientists to create more realistic worlds for their movies. I was also able to present a poster on my VURF funded summer research on boldness behaviors in chickadees at a two hour long session. The atmosphere at a conference as large as SICB was different from any poster presentation I had given before, and I was grateful for the opportunity to have a new environment to learn new ways of presenting my work to unfamiliar audiences.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to meet so many new people who share my passion for science – undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, and established PI’s alike. Overall, the opportunity to attend SICB allowed me to learn tons of new skills, see all kinds of new things happening in my field and others, and establish new relationships with fellow scientists.