1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Academic Conferences (Math)

  1. Sep 5, 2008 #1

    JasonRox

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Are they worth going to?

    There is one I want to go to because I think it would be nice to go, and I love the city (potential future home!). There is another one which is closer to my school which I can attend for sure, but would like to contribute a talk (25 minutes).

    I haven't talked to my supervisor much about the first one coming up but I did tell him I want to go. And he knows I'm serious about going. The second one, I know will go whether I contribute or not. It's a Graduate Mathematics Conference nearby.

    My supervisor is currently gone as of now, but will be around Monday. I'd just like to ask some questions ahead anyways.

    I personally never been to one yet. So I have no idea how it works. For a presentation at a graduate conference, what level do they expect the material to be presented at? I have no idea whatsoever.

    Anyways, any tips, advice, experiences and so on about conferences would be appreciated.

    Note: My supervisor does want me going to many conferences during my Master's so I hope to just go to some early on and see what it is, and then be prepared to get really involved next year.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2008 #2

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I can't speak about what gets presented at these specific conferences, but in general, yes, it's good to go to conferences. It's a chance to meet and greet others in your field. The earlier in your education you start going, the better.

    If you don't present, it's still good to go to see what types of things get presented, and what the most current work is (the idea is to find out what people are working on that's not yet published).

    When you do have something to present, it's even better. Early in your graduate career, listen to the questions and suggestions and they can help you improve your projects by catching something your supervisor or committee may have missed. As you advance, and have more solid projects to present, hopefully you'll have others stopping by to listen to your presentation who may offer you future jobs. It's also a chance to hook up with people who are doing similar work as you to develop collaborative projects that might be better done with combined efforts than individually.

    Your supervisor should help you prepare your first presentation if you are accepted to give one, so let him help you with the level of content and quality.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2008 #3

    JasonRox

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Thanks for the response.

    Yeah, those were exactly my thoughts. I figured it would be fun as well to travel around and meet people. And possibly by next year, when I go to similiar or the same conference, I will meet again with those I will meet this year and things can proceed further as I will be more experienced.
     
  5. Sep 5, 2008 #4
    Conferences are fun, even out of your field. One of my favorite conferences of all time was an applied math conference on cryptology. I was enthralled. There really is no substitute for learning stuff that is completely new (to you). It's like discovering a new world.
     
  6. Sep 6, 2008 #5

    mathwonk

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    2015 Award

    conferences are a good idea. presenting is a good idea. if you present, then practice your presentation sometime during the previous week on a live audience even if only one person. you will learn a lot from the experience. indeed that is the primary means of communication in the mathematical community. it is also helpful in hiring, meeting people who may hire you, and in my case seeing people i may want to hire.
     
  7. Sep 6, 2008 #6

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, that should happen as well. When it comes time for things like post-docs and first jobs, you're more likely to get interviews and job offers from people who know you from conferences than from applications to people who don't know you at all. People like to hire a "known entity" rather than take a risk on someone they've only talked to for a few hours on a day of an interview. Talking to people at conferences gives them more of a measure of your personality as well as your research capabilities.

    That's how I found my post-doc mentor. The first conference I went to, my Ph.D. mentor had abandoned me (this was atypical, and certainly out of character for him, but fortunately, I wasn't some wilting flower). I saw there were some posters by members of a lab whose work I had read TONS of papers about and was considered right at the top of the field. So, I made it a point to visit those posters, meet the people in the lab, and meet the professor. He then came over to my poster and asked me some really great questions and some I had answers for while others I didn't, but realized I needed to find the answers to those questions and thanked him for the suggestions. It was great...some people would just tell you "Oh, that's wrong," but he just asked questions and didn't make you feel bad being new to research that you'd missed something important, while still getting the point across that you needed to do it.

    So, every year at this conference, we'd meet up again. I'd check out all his group's posters, and he'd visit mine, and I'd even join his group for a chat during the socials. And, when it was time to look for post-doc positions, he was the first person I talked to. I just knew he was not only someone doing great research, but also an excellent mentor/teacher, and just had a personality that fit with mine.
     
  8. Sep 6, 2008 #7

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'd even suggest starting to practice more than a week ahead and do it a few times. Get as many people as you can to listen to it and give you feedback so you can polish it. Start with rehearsing for your supervisor or research group to make sure the content you need to include is accurate, and the major points are covered. Then, practice for other students or faculty who do different work. They'll add help on stylistic points (i.e., are you talking to the screen or board rather than your audience), and can also catch things that aren't clear to someone outside your immediate research group. One error people can make in presentations is to be too "close" to the work and forget that you're making mental shortcuts that your audience won't make with you and that will lose them in explaining the flow of logic. Having someone outside your group listen to you practice will help identify skipped steps that will confuse a larger audience.

    I take the same attitude with writing papers as I do with presentations...it's better to get ripped apart by your lab group and collaborators and friends than it is by reviewers or an audience at a talk. I ask my colleagues to be as brutal in their criticism as possible...find every flaw, every thing that's not clear, every place that's rough stylistically, every typo, and especially let me know if they don't agree on the conclusions or see a gap in the logic that arrives at them. That way, when it gets to a reviewers' hands, or when I present it to the conference audience, the vast majority of questions that might come to their minds are already addressed.
     
  9. Sep 8, 2008 #8

    JasonRox

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    That's a great story too.

    I personally don't see myself doing presentations this term but more likely by the end of next term.

    I can't wait to go to my first and see how it goes.
     
  10. Sep 10, 2008 #9
    I went to the joint AMS/MAA math meeting this past January in San Diego - it was a blast! It is the only meeting I have ever gone to, but it was a great experience. Also, it was all paid for too (including a trip to the San Diego zoo :biggrin:). My favorite talk was from a guy named Robert Lang: it was on Oragami and all the cool stuff you can do with it (including some practical work with NASA on folding mirrors). Come to think about it - it seemed more like a vacation than "work." Just get someone else to fund it, and you'll have a great time :smile:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?