Last year the Becker lab had the opportunity to attend and present at the Western Society of Naturalists 100th Anniversary Conference in Monterey, California. With amazing sights, wonderful networking opportunities, and memories with the coolest lab members, what more could a young aspiring scientist like myself ask for?!
The drive there…
…was 13 hours, and that was just to San Francisco! Taking the long way to the hostel through Lombard Street while it was empty was totally worth it though, even if it took us until 2AM to check in.
Lombard Street was just the tip of the tourist iceberg. The next morning everyone was able to meet up, and we all walked the marina, got our cheesy souvenirs, ate at Bubba Gump’s, and spent well into the afternoon exploring. After we got our San Fran fill, we headed out on the road again towards Monterey to get there just in time for a pre-conference talk about science through an artistic perspective, and honestly it was my favorite talk of the conference. After the talk, we headed back to see the amazing VRBO rented out for the weekend: a HUGE old house that surprisingly fit us all comfortably. Day 1 of California was a definite success.
It’s difficult to put into words how life-changing this conference was for me, and I’m sure the rest of the Becker lab had a similar experience. To spend most of three days surrounded by students and professors who share the same interests and think in the same way as I do made me feel like I found my people. Every day was filled with amazing talks that inspired me (including our own Megan Hintz’s!) and on the third day, I got to give my own when I co-presented my poster. THAT was a real ego boost. Although nervous at first, I felt confident in the knowledge I had about my study and the support I got from my lab group helped me to push through those nerves and speak comfortably in front of a LOT of people. All in all, I left feeling accomplished, and more confident than ever as a scientist.
But of course, it wasn’t all work and no play…
Having a beach just 5 minutes away was definitely a major perk (you can tell by the various jumping beach pictures), we got to see the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, and there were a few birthdays over the weekend (Dr. Becker’s and Axton’s)! I honestly can’t believe this wasn’t considered a vacation because it was one of the best I’ve ever had.