The Challenger Society Conference

So this year Liverpool is hosting the Challenger Society for Marine Science 17th Biennial Conference and I managed to get a ticket to the 5 day event.

Today was a real eye opener for me, as it is my first academic conference, honestly I didn’t know what to expect. Luckly there were a few familiar faces there who are taking part in the event from the Liverpool John Moores university faculty and outreach team who were nice enough to let me tag along with them.

I must say it was very intimidating to find out that I am amongst the very few, if not the only person there, who isn’t currently undertaking a PhD or who has completed one… (hopefully that will change soon). It was rather disconcerting to be just a graduate in a sea of PhDs and post docs. It was amusing seeing the different reactions from the academics who were running today’s career activity when they asked ‘so what are you doing for your PhD?’. When I responded and revealed that I’m just a zoology graduate some looked a little bemused, some seemed impressed and some were encouraging. I think at first I felt out-of-place, maybe a little apprehensive even, worried that I may be patronised or dismissed. Luckily this hasnt been the case so far. Anyway enough of my babbling regarding self-doubt and worries, on to today and what happened.

Today was more of an ice breaker event, a fun informal careers activity ran like a brief Q and A with people working in all sectors involving marine science. Tuesday-Thursday is where the talks and poster presentations occur, which are the parts i am really looking forward to. However, today was very useful, not in the sense of finding a job that I can start tomorrow and never have to worry about finance or my future career ever again (I wish it was…). But today helped me network and within the first hour or so I was frantically scribbling down names of organisations, academics, research teams, institutes, PhD students who are currently doing work I would love to be a part of and outreach/public engagement teams.

Listening to the brief talks followed by the back and forth between panel members and audience did help me gain further understanding of what certain roles involve and just how much there is available outside of academia. I went into the conference not knowing what to expect, and at some level I’m still clueless, I have noted all the talks i want to attend, read up all the names that are involved in zoological research, noted all the elasmobranch researchers or any one who has any connection to sharks and marine vertebrates.

I will be back there tomorrow bright, early and eager with pad and pen hopefully learning new exciting things and building a greater network, and bugging plenty of researchers after talks and poster presentations.



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