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A message from Andrew Watson, PhD, Associate Dean, Research (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) - The importance of conferences

Recently, I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy to attend the 16th World Congress in Gynaecological Endocrinology. Now, I know well enough that everyone is not interested in this specific topic or field, however, there are conferences held in a wide range of fields in beautiful and exotic locations each year.

You may have asked yourself, why is attending a conference important?

Well, science does not flourish in a vacuum. Ideas and discoveries wither away if they are not brought to life by effective communication and disclosure.

Sharing research ideas, hypotheses, challenges, and advances with like-minded colleagues is fundamental to the advancement of all fields of inquiry.

Travelling and presenting your research findings at a local, national or international conference can be one of the most exhilarating, and perhaps terrifying, aspects of graduate studies. Whether it is a poster or oral presentation, sharing your results with scientists in your field from around the world is certainly a pinnacle of scientific achievement and success.

The feedback you receive and the enlightenment your discoveries can bring to your field of inquiry can all be indispensable for allowing you to highlight your achievements and raise your profile. Plus, there is the extra benefit of visiting places you have always wanted to visit.

They say the world is getting smaller, however, for science and research it has always been small. Globalization is simply a fact, not a concept when applied to research fields.

To be successful, you need to know what is happening in labs in your field around the world. The person who may have the biggest impact on your project’s success is likely not next door to you, but halfway around the world. This is how research works and why it is such a global activity.

It is important to get out of your backyard every so often to see what is happening. Almost all of our research-based graduate students do attend local, national or even international conferences in their research area during their graduate studies training period. This essential activity is fundamental to your development as a competitive global research scientist.

My advice to you is take full advantage of all such opportunities that come your way. See you next month and keep working on those discoveries.

Andy