The last two months have been hectic. While traveling out of state in October, I experienced a medical emergency that sent me to the ER twice and left me with a concussion. I never had a concussion before and did not realize how debilitating they were. Things as simple as loading the dishwasher left me exhausted, and driving was out of the question. I was not able to leave my apartment by myself for two weeks.

Of course, this happened the month before the Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting, which draws in hundreds of entomologists from around the world. This year, the meeting was even larger because it was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in conjunction with the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) and the Entomological Society of British Columbia (ESBC). There were also other entomological societies meeting at this conference, including the Entomological Collections Network (ECN) and the International Society of Hymenopterists (ISH).

Long story short, it’s a big deal for entomologists.

It’s an even bigger deal when you’re a student in the last year of your PhD and are looking to take the next step in your career. And when you’re giving a talk at the conference on top of that.

The location of the ESA, ESC and ESBC Joint Annual Meeting In Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Carolyn Trietsch (CC BY 2.0). Click for source.

On my birthday, I got an appointment with a concussion specialist, who told me that I was in the minority of people who take longer to recover from a first concussion. This was not encouraging news, but there were still three more weeks until the conference. She monitored me as I improved, slowly but surely, and a week before the conference, she said that I was well enough to attend.

This was great news. Except that now I had only a week to prepare and make my presentation. And during this time I was still recovering from the concussion, because symptoms don’t just go away; they linger, sometimes for months afterward.

Something I learned from dealing with the concussion is that there’s a limit to how much you can do. You’re not going to be able to do everything you want to get done, so you need to prioritize, forgive yourself for the things you can’t do, and be proud of what you can do. My main priority was my presentation. I typically try to finish a talk a few weeks ahead of time and practice it, but that wasn’t happening this time. I wasn’t able to finish my talk before getting on the plane, but I got the majority of it done and was able to finish it in the hotel.

Despite recovering from a concussion, I won second place in the Graduate Student Ten-Minute Paper Competition (Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity Session: Wasps and Bees) for my talk, titled “Macho Megaspilidae: How males hold the key to revising Conostigmus spp. (Hymenoptera: Megaspilidae) of the Nearctic.” Photo by Shelby Kilpatrick. All rights reserved.

Fortunately, my hotel was connected to the conference center, so I could be back in my room in less than 10 minutes if I felt ill. I did spent more time in my hotel room than at the conference, but because I took it easy and rested instead of trying to be there the entire time, I was able to attend the talks and events that were most important to me.

Despite spending less time at the conference, I was still able to network and make some great connections that I hope will help me in the months ahead. And although I missed most of Sunday’s events, I was well rested and able to give my own presentation on Monday morning.

My talk went so well that I received an award for second place for best student talk in my symposium. Not bad for someone recovering from a concussion! I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to, but I am proud of what I was able to accomplish and thankful that I was even able to attend at all.

Crocheted bees, dragonflies and butterflies on sale at the meeting to raise money for the Penn State Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA). Photo by Carolyn Trietsch (CC BY 2.0). Click for source.

This Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for my wonderful and loving parents, who drove over 5 hours to come pick me up and bring me home after my first ER visit, then stayed with me and took care of me when we still didn’t know what was wrong. I am also thankful for my boyfriend, Duncan, who drove me to doctor appointments and patiently helped me during my slow recovery. I am also thankful for my friends who wrote to me, visited me and brought me treats when I couldn’t leave my apartment. I'm so thankful to have so many good people in my life!

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We're in the midst of conference season. I'm getting ready for the 2018 ESA, ESC and ESBC Joint Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, from November 11-14. This will be the largest meeting of entomologists this year, and will feature researchers from around the world.
This meeting also coincides with the Entomological Collections Network annual meeting from November 10-11, which is attended by collection managers, museum workers and anyone else interested in entomology collections.

Is your research difficult to communicate? Put pictures on the back of your business cards to show people what you're talking about. It's a great conversation starter, perfect for networking at mixers. Photo by Carolyn Trietsch.

For everyone else who is getting ready to attend a conference, here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Talk to yourself. Why are you going to the conference? Is it to present your research, make new collaborations, investigate potential postdoc opportunities, find a job, or all of the above? Figure out what you want to accomplish so you can work towards making it happen.
  • Get with the program! Conference programs are usually available online ahead of time. Block off some time in your schedule, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and scan the program for  interesting talks, events or mixers you want to attend. Don't tell yourself you'll have time to go through the program at the conference-- you're going to be busy once you get there. Plan your schedule beforehand so you can make the best of your time at the conference.
  • Hey, where you at? While going through the program, mark down the names of anyone you'd like to talk to or network with, then shoot them an email. Schedule a time and place to meet them over coffee or drinks, or even invite them to come to your talk/poster if you're presenting.
  • Here's my card. Print new business cards. If you're giving a talk or presenting a poster, either write or put stickers with the time and location on your business cards-- that way, people you meet at the conference can come and see you there.
  • What have I done?! Take a look at your resume/CV and make sure it's up to date. While you're at it, update your LinkedIn, ResearchGate, personal website, Twitter and any other online accounts or profiles that list your work and accomplishments.
  • Print all the things! Now that your resume/CV is updated, print out some copies to hand out. Use a paperclip or staple your business card to the top. If you're interested in different types of jobs, you should have a specialized resume/CV that highlights your specific skills and experiences for each type of position.

Good luck at your conferences, and safe travels!

While looking over a friend’s bioethics paper, I noticed the following citation:

(Samways, 261, 1993)

It looks like a normal citation, but wait– what is that number in the middle? Is that a page number? Yes, it is!

This immediately brought back memories of 9th grade when I was formally trained how to take notes and cite sources. In those days of MLA, providing a citation with the page number was key to fighting plagiarism, the enemy of original thought, and what is more valuable to education than that? (I guess funding, but that’s beside the point ).

You see, I miss page numbers. I haven’t seen page numbers since my literary criticism classes in college, where a page number showed that yes, you did read all of those sources you listed in the bibliography. Or at least the important parts of them.

Oftentimes, a page number is all that stands between looking up a single sentence or spending hours rifling through hundreds of pages trying find that one stupid sentence.

Where was that sentence with all the information I need? I swear, I just saw it five minutes ago.... Photo by Carolyn Trietsch. All rights reserved.

Why don’t we use page numbers in science? Is it because it’s a lot of work? Or is it because page numbers aren’t useful anymore, as most of us read online publications as soon as they are released in our efforts to stay up to date  with the cutting edge of science?

Though I understand that online sources can be more easily navigated with “Ctrl-F”, I think that page numbers are still immensely useful in citations. It communicates  to your reader that you are not just making things up and attributing them to someone else—it shows that you did get that fact from somewhere, and that you can show exactly where you got it from. It shows  that you can be held accountable for your work, and that you can back up what you’re saying with more than just an author name and year.

Page numbers are more than just a courtesy to your readers––they facilitate your readers’ own research by directing them towards relevant portions of other relevant research. And isn’t clear communication our responsibility as scientists?

Page numbers are also immensely helpful to the author. Haven’t you ever fallen into the trap where you read something but forget where it was in the paper, and you know it’s in there, but you can’t find it ?

I don’t think that adding page numbers is a waste of time, especially when you’re doing citations anyway. In fact, the simple act of jotting down the page number can save time when you need to go back to the original source and check something, and suddenly don’t have to reread the entire source to find that one thing you were looking for.

Give page numbers a chance, and try it out for yourself—what’s the worst that can happen?

Last year I received two Io moth caterpillars. They promptly made cocoons for themselves and I put them in the fridge to overwinter. I took them out in April and have been waiting for them to emerge since then. It took a few months, but one finally emerged yesterday!

A female Io moth, showing off the golden eye spots on her hind wings. Photo by Carolyn Trietsch, CC BY 2.0. Click for source.

As soon as I picked it up, the moth flared its hind wings out in a warning display. The moths flash the eye spots on their hind wings to startle birds and other predators.

Female Io moth. Photo by Carolyn Trietsch (CC BY 2.0). Click for source.

Both males and females have large eye spots on the hind wings, but the color of the fore wings and bodies differ between the sexes. The females are typically reddish-brown, while the males are yellow. This moth is a female.