17 November, 2012

People, Bugs, and Sunspheres

Hanging out in the Sunsphere!

Well, we are all safely back from the 2012 Entomological Society of America meeting held in Knoxville, Tennessee but also known as "K-Town" (I actually never heard it called that, and frankly I hope I never do, but Wikipedia told me that was one of the city's nicknames).  I always enjoy going to meetings, and this one lived up to expectations producing a range of great interactions and good times.  Claudio gave a nice talk on some of our lab's pollinator work on Sunday.  My talk, along with Hannah and a few other people from the department, was on Monday.  David had a poster on Tuesday, as did Erica, and then we rounded things out with a poster and talk on Wednesday by Gratton Lab mates Julia and Rachel.

 We ran into this shady guy downtown after lunch.

 My talk was part of a student competition, which really doesn't mean much except that you know that your talk or poster is on Monday.  Generally it is better to present your work early in the meeting schedule so clear the nervousness and preparation completely from your mind.  Better yet than the timing of my talk, was the session that it was included into.  I had a number of friends presenting in the same session, and there were also a lot of great talks by people that I hadn't met before.  After our session ended a large group of us went out to lunch and continued to hang out/bump into each other through the rest of the meeting.  I'm definitely looking forward to seeing these folks again soon!

Jason and David stroll under the watchful Sunsphere.

New friends are great, but often old friends are better yet.  It is also one thing to go to a meeting with current labmates, but another to visit and catch up with old colleagues between and after sessions.  It was so great to spend a lot of time with David and Erica, two people that I have spent so many years with in close proximity that are now removed from my daily life.  It was fun to hear about what they are up to, and rekindle some of the camaraderie that made out time together so wonderful.  I'm also looking forward to seeing them both again at future meetings.
Julia mans her poster.

The final fun note of meetings, as has been mentioned before, is visiting an interesting city.  I had never done anything but drive through Kentucky or Tennessee before so it was nice to stop in both of them and get some flavor.  Knoxville hosted the 1982 World's Fair, and the conference center is embedded in what remains of the physical infrastructure for the meeting.  There were also lots of nice shops, restaurants  and bars in the area which makes all of the aforementioned visiting even better.  To top it all off the weather was mostly mild and sunny, and the temperature and color took me back to the autumn we enjoyed in Madison now a good month ago.  Nothing like a distance for time substitution!  Almost like travelling in a time machine...
The deserted mid-day autumn streets of "K-town."

Next week is Thanksgiving as I am sure you are all aware.  I think we should all take a break and return rested and hopefully not too much fatter the following week.  Until then!



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