I like to travel. I think it is always a great experience to see new things, discover new places and enjoy cultures different from my own. One of the cool things about being a research scientist is the fact that I frequently get the opportunity to travel to various places, both home and abroad, specifically because I am a scientist.
Let me explain…
One of the most important aspects of research science is the exchange of ideas, theories and data. And although there are many ways to exchange scientific ideas, including via the internet, one of the oldest and most effective methods is by actually discussing these ideas in-person and face-to-face. Because scientific research is being practiced in every corner of the earth, these in-person interactions often require scientists to travel.
Whether it is a small conference with less than 100 attendees, an invitation to present research at a college or university, or a massive international meeting featuring more than 10,000 researchers, traveling as a scientist can be both scientifically informative and location-wise explorative. Some conferences are located in the warmth of the tropics, while others can be found in the heart of skiing territory.
If you are a student or a post-doctoral researcher, there are often travel grants that can be used toward your travel and/or lodging to attend a conference. Take advantage while you can, because once you are a professional, costs go up. Plus, this will expose you to such scientific events like poster sessions, plenary lectures, and professional development seminars. And if you plan your time wisely, you can always find a way to take a moment for yourself and explore the area that the conference is located in.
In my short scientific career, I’ve traveled to Maine’s Atlantic coast, seen the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming, watched the sun rise over Sandia Mountain in New Mexico, and soaked up the sun at a resort town called Carefree, Arizona. Not only have I traveled to wonderful places within the USA, but I’ve also had the opportunity to present my research in other countries, like Cancun, Mexico and along the Mediterranean Sea in Spain. Had it not been for research events in those places, it is very unlikely that I would have ever seen them in person because outside of science, I had no particular reason to ever visit those specific places. Well maybe I would've visited Cancun, but not the others! :-)
And certainly, I’ve also presented my work at countless research conferences in familiar large cities (e.g. Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, DC, Indianapolis, LA, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco) as well as at numerous large universities and small colleges throughout the country.
Although we are not wined and dined quite as luxuriously as a free agent athlete looking for a new team in a major sport, I have found that traveling as a scientist can be done at a reasonable cost, and it can provide the opportunity to expand your horizons intellectually and globally. Indeed, scientists travel too!
Pretty cool, huh?!!!
-Dr. Boyd, “the Chemist”