When Andrea Baier asked me whether I could write a blog post about my plans for the ESA this year, I initially thought ‘Oh no, another thing for my to-do list’. But then, the skies opened, angels started to sing, and it hit me with full strength – this would be my opportunity to, for once, go to a conference prepared.
Normally, I do all the planning for a conference in a frantic rush, from writing my abstract, to registering, and booking flights and hotels. I prepare my talk a couple of days before I go, and one day before I am heading off, I print my flight schedule and look at the location of my hotel. Then, after having arrived at the conference, I look at the program and highlight the talks and sessions that I want to attend. With a conference as big as the ESA however, I always end up missing lots of things.
So, thanks Andrea, for forcing me to prepare!
Because of the cheap flight, I am leaving very early on Saturday the 3rd, and will arrive in Minneapolis in the early afternoon. This will allow me to get rid of most of my jetlag before the conference really takes off on Monday, and I’ll also be able to attend the workshop Structural Equation Modeling: Advanced Techniques, which starts on Sunday at 8am.
Then, on Monday, I will attend the session Creating Effective Data Management Plans for Ecological Research, which will hopefully help me be more organized about managing my own data, and increase my awareness and use of online data repositories. In the afternoon, there are two clashing sessions that I’d like to attend: New Paradigms in Biogeochemical Cycling I and How Does Plasticity in Root Morphology Buffer Responses To Changes in Resource Availability? I think I will probably go for the latter, as I have recently developed an obsession with roots, and I hope to talk to some of the speakers.
After all the sessions have ended on Monday, I have organized a get-together for members of the BES special interest group Plants, Soils, Ecosystems, of which I am the secretary. I hope some people will be there; however, I don’t want to have a very late night, because the next day I am speaking in the symposium Integrating Soil Biodiversity Into Discussions of Global Sustainability: The Time Is Now which I would have also attended if I wouldn’t have spoken in it myself. I am very much looking forward to giving my presentation, discussing with the audience, and the interaction with the organisers and other speakers.
Then, on Tuesday afternoon, I will attend the session Defining Which Microbial Properties Matter most to Ecosystem Function and How to Measure Them. When that is finished, thanks to twitter, I will meet a couple of other Associate Editors of the Journal of Ecology to go for a run!
By the time it is Wednesday and, I suspect that my good intentions will start to wear off bit, and that I am ready for a lie in. However, the Ecosystems Editorial Board meeting starts at 7am in the morning (WHY would you want to have a meeting over breakfast at 7am?) to which I will definitely go, and am looking forward to, although I will probably curse it when my alarm goes off. In the afternoon I will browse posters, after which I will go the Journal of Ecology Associate Editor dinner, which is my first. I am looking forward to meeting the other AEs!
On Thursday then, I will finally have a lie in, and try to attend a number of talks, providing that I am not attended-out and a bit tired of it all. The ones that are on my list are: Plant diversity effects on soil food webs are stronger than those of elevated CO2 and N deposition in a long-term grassland experiment by Nico Eisenhauer, Pollinator ecological traits mediate the loss of pollination services with agricultural intensification by Journal of Ecology AE Ignasi Bartomeus, and Global change agents interactively affect soil organisms with possible impacts on ecosystem functions by Simone Cesarz.
On Friday I will head home again, and I will reflect on planning a conference as minutely as I have now, and whether I will do it again for INTECOL. It is one thing to make a planning like this, but sharing it with the entire world (or with a tiny number of ecologists) is something else, and makes me feel obliged to stick with it – and I am already getting recalcitrant.
Therefore, if I am not where I said I would be, there is no need to panic – I am probably frantically trying to keep up with my email, exploring Minneapolis, socializing at the BES stand, or off on a run.
Franciska De Vries
Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology
Twitter: @frantecol, @BESPlantSoilEco