Lauren Cane writes about co-chairing an international seminar!

Lauren Cane attended and co-chair an international seminar, here it is in her words!

On 2nd June 2017 I flew to the States to attend both a seminar and a conference in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Both were organised by Gordon Research Conferences who hold conferences around the world on topics varying from ‘the Biology of Aging’ to String Theory. This one was on Superconductivity, the subject of my PhD.

 I was attracted to this conference because the topics to be covered were incredibly relevant to my current work. This contrasts with larger international conferences which can cover a much broader range of topics with only a few talks overlapping substantially with your own area of interest. I spotted many names on the program that I recognised from reading significant papers in the field such as Bernhard Keimer, Nicolas Doiron-Leyraud and Suchitra Sebastian. It seemed like the perfect opportunity.

 The seminar was held across two days prior to the main conference (3rd – 4th June) and aimed to attract scientists early in their careers to present their work and discuss the field in a safe, non-intimidating environment. I was very excited to be invited to give a talk on my work which I gave in the first session on Saturday evening. The talks were 20 minutes long followed by 10 minutes for discussion. After hour long lectures during undergrad, 20 minutes doesn’t sound like very long, but of the 3 conference I have spoken at this was the longest! I enjoyed having the time to explain the background to my work in a bit more detail before going on to show my data and outline its significance. 

I loved the two days I spent at the seminar. I met many fellow PhD students doing interesting work in the field. Everyone was friendly and with only 35 post-docs and PhD students in the room the atmosphere was not at all intimidating. Towards the end, we were asked to nominate and elect people in the room to chair the next seminar and, to my surprise, Anna Boehmer and myself were elected as co-chairs. I’m extremely excited to have this opportunity and look forward to working with Anna.

On Sunday evening the attendees for the main conference began to arrive and there must have been close to 200 people. The conference lasted 4 days (4th – 8th June) and each day consisted of 10 talks, a 2 hour poster session and ample discussion time. The timetable (including mealtimes) stretched from 7:30am to 9:30pm with 2 and half hours free time each afternoon. I was continually learning but my favourite time was spent during the poster sessions. Speaking to people at their posters allowed me to ask as many questions as I liked as they explained their work. This made it easier to gain an appreciation of their findings while building relationships with other physicists in the field.

 By the end of the week I was thoroughly exhausted and enjoyed a relaxing weekend site-seeing in Boston!