I am first a conservationist, second a herpetologist, always an ecologist. So attending the meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) may seem like a bit of an odd fit. My big meeting each year is ESA (that’s Ecological Society of America) and sometimes I make it to an amphibian disease-specific meeting that really helped me out in my early years. But for the past few years, I have attended SICB, even though it’s mostly outside of my wheelhouse. Why? Because I love the diversity.
I originally began attending this meeting because many of my friends at my graduate university use this as their big meeting. I do not have a winter meeting, so I figured that I would tag along. There is enough here in my field to fit in so I can always give a talk or present a poster. But what I’ve realized over the years is that I really like this conference because I learn so much.
SICB encompasses just about anything you can think of in the animal/plant world; however, the main foci (in my opinion) are the mechanics of movement and endocrinology (with a lot of birds). I am friends with many ornithologists/endocrinologists and have taken many classes on the subjects, so I usually don’t feel too left out. And I think there is something to be said about getting outside of your wheelhouse everyone once in a while (welcome to my postdoc).
For me, ESA is safe, the herp meetings are safe, but SICB…SICB is a bit daunting. I don’t know a ton of people in the fields in which I am interested at this meeting. I know people who know people, but that only gets one so far. So for me, even as an outgoing individual, there are a lot of situations where I must “fend” for myself and make my own way. Honestly, I was dreading this meeting in particular as very few of my friends who normally attend the meeting were going to make it. Honestly though, I’ve had a pretty good time. I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with old aquiantances, meet some new people, and just have personal time to relax and get back into the science mind after the holidays.
I remember reading a post from Small Pond Science about being at a meeting that isn’t really in your field of study. Basically, he suggested that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing, and I agree. Granted, I’m not far out of mine, but the experience nonetheless is a good one.
Having said all of that, there’s snow at home and I’m in Florida…I hope it doesn’t melt before I return!