Feedback from 2013 attendees:
"I had a fantastic time at the Exploration Station, though. I liked that there were a wide variety of opportunities for volunteering, ranging from simple head-counting to working with kids to staffing a table. I worked with kids at the rocket-making area, and it was a hoot. Really adorable kids with various levels of experience, and they were all just having a good time. Got to play around a bit myself, and visit other booths to collect nifty stuff and talk to people."
"That was the real highlight for me - the camaraderie. It was nice meeting other like-minded students, and I actually have plans to stay connected with one of them because of our common interests. It was great to talk and learn and share and teach. It was a great group. I enjoyed talking to people at other booths and learning about things like Arctic exploration and such. Big fun."
— Zann Goff
"The AGU conference was really cool. I attended 3 days and each time I found an event or area that was interesting to me. On the first day I volunteered by helping at the air rocket station for young kids. The kids were creative and made it fun, plus I met other CCSF students and picked up a few free posters of marine autotrophs and ocean research vessels, cool!"
"The second day I was able to attend a lecture by a UCSC professor who was studying river mouth morphology in Northern California. I really enjoyed the lecture because I was familiar with the Russian and San Lorenzo Rivers and the presentation was easy to understand. Also, I visited the posters hall which was eye-opening. Posters created by scientists of various fields were informative and showed me how much there is to learn about... everything! The posters were more difficult to understand but many of the scientists were excited to explain their research to me, even when I couldn't understand it all."
"On the final day I went to collect as much SWAG as I could and I went home with a laminated map of Earth's topography and Ocean bathymetry by the European Space Agency and a NASA calendar. After walking around, I sat down to watch a few videos made by researchers. One of the videos I thought was cool was by an Italian grad student at Oxford who looked at yearly fluctuations of CO2 absorption by leaves in the Amazon rainforest canopy."
"After attending the AGU conference I felt inspired by the professional scientists I met and I also had a great time exploring the Moscone Center. So go and enjoy!"
— Liam O'Malley
Tips from Jim Ambrose (2-time attendee) from Fall 2013:
- Dress is jeans (these are students, teachers and geologists). Only talk presenters dress up. Jeans are fine for your work on Sun. Always bring a jacket because it gets cold quickly in the evening.
- Mosconi Center is a 3+ block walk from Montgomery BART. On Sun. BRING THE BADGE THAT WAS MAILED TO YOU. Follow directions mailed to you (time and place). Bring food and drink on Sun. (no concessions open on Sun.). Sun. work is not physical. During a work break, check out the tables. Score lots of free stuff, especially NASA, (posters, DVDs, brochures). After work on Sun., go to North Hall and register (get "Badge Holder" and "Syllabus") - if you wait until Mon. you will wait in long lines.
- "Syllabus" is vague. Pick up a "Daily Detail Sessions" listing each day. It looks like a newspaper. It lists who, where, and what for the day. Pick it up on your way in.
- Vendor get together: Go to free exhibitor get together Mon. evening (MC - North Hall). Score more free stuff. Food and drinks provided. Buy all kinds of things (minerals, jewelry, books, etc.)
- Poster Sessions: Over 1000 new posters presented every day. It is impossible to read them all. Pick a field of Geology you are interested in and read those. Syllabus and Daily Detail lists fields. It is fun to interact with the authors (most are at their posters before and after lunch).
- Talks: Choose talks from Daily Detail list or from electronic message boards outside venues. When you go in, sit down. If you stand along walls, you will be scolded - Fire Dept. Regs. At around 10AM and 3PM, there are breaks where coffee, tea and colas are served outside talk venues.6. College Representatives: In the vendor area (MC -North hall) are a large number of college representatives interested in attracting students into their programs (both undergraduate and graduate). These representatives are mostly located on the sides of the hall (venders selling stuff are in the middle). Don't be afraid to talk to them even if their school is not one you want to go to.
- Student Center: It is located in MC -South Hall near where you worked on Sun. There are computers available and you can converse with others. Be aware that many talks and poster presenters hang here. They don't want to be disturbed.
- Occasionally, sit down next to someone. Take a load off. Speak to them. Almost all foreigners speak English. They are the ones most wanting to speak English.
Student feedback from the 2012 event:
"My experience at the AGU was not only extremely exciting but also more inspirational than I ever could have hoped. Attending the different events, from public lectures to the mildly intimidating poster sessions, showed me how much has been done, how much is happening, and how much there is still to discover in the Earth Sciences."
— Alyxe Anderson
Some comments from students who attended in 2011:
" Regarding the AGU, it was great, went on Thurs afternoon and then again on Friday. Although I understood less than 10% (less than 1%) of what I heard and saw, it was useful for me to see a full-fledged conference in action, to begin to understand what it might mean to be a research scientist. I looked for posters on Large Data but also Remote Sensing turned out be quite interesting, and it was a little more accessible to me, especially at the posters cause the people could see when I didn't understand and lower the level of the language...I attended 3 talks but understood very little. Did chat a little with the guys from Saudi Arabia who gave one of the talks about the Red Sea, interesting to know that there's research happening at the school there. Did get to know a couple of the people who were working with the organizers and turned out they were staying close to me in North Beach, went out for drinks, not the scientists I was hoping to connect with but maybe good for some free tickets next year.. Thank you for advising me to go"
The AGU conference was so much fun! Both on Sunday and Tuesday it was really cool being able to talk to people who know so much about their field. The lectures were fascinating, but way over my head. I found the posters and exhibits much less intimidating. For the most part, everyone was really nice and they were more than happy to simplify their research so that I could understand it. At one of the exhibits, the woman told me all about the trips she has taken for her research! At another booth, the exhibitor had made a complete 3D model of the sun and the magnetic field around it and explained how he made the code and mapped it all. Even though I did not understand much of what I saw it was a great experience and I would definitely go again next year! Thank you!"
"My two days at the AGU Fall conference were filled with moments of excitement, confusion, and enough intellectual discourse to make my head spin. I would encourage Earth Science students to attend any and all sessions that may appeal to them. The two hours I spent in each session answered many questions about subjects that had remained a mystery through lecture courses and my own independent study. The amount of information was overwhelming at times, but I just kept reminding myself that there was no test at the end, and I was there to listen to professionals discuss topics ranging from Coastal Geomorphology to Climate Change and Landscape Response. I can not wait for next year's meeting and I hope to be more prepared and clear my schedule well in advance." — JP
"I just came back from my day at AGU. I started pretty early (840ish am), and navigated through both south and west wings of the Moscone Center. I didn't have much luck finding a poster that had their owner on site or that interested me if they were present. I did, however, speak to many people in the exhibit hall (after filling my bags of goodies). I talked to the people from Scripps, NOAA, Department of Energy, (among others). I think it was a better way for me to express myself in a less intimidating environment. I noticed the lack of diversity as I felt lost in a sea of researchers that did not look anything like me. I attended many talks that sounded interesting but gave me a headache 5 minutes into them. However I did find a couple of them that I could relate to, such as the "magnetic monitoring of bacterial microbes in mid-ocean ridges", "evidence of Andean uplift" and "wetland hydrologic processes" and even though they were a little bit hard to follow, I got something out of each one of them. The star of the AGU is without a doubt NASA (no pun intended), everybody wanted a piece of that cake. They had the biggest booth in the middle of the exhibit hall, and most attendees were proudly carrying their NASA badge around their necks. I know I don't have the desire to pursue that path, but I find myself at awe to be in the presence of such figures. from where i come from, these things are only seen in movies. I'll live to be a hundred and my amusement towards their work will remain similar to a 4-year-old.
Some of the titles of the talks are hard to understand for me. But I have no background in space sciences, and my knowledge of geophysics is laughable. My strength mostly relies on biology. Nevertheless, I highly recommend other fellow students to leave shyness at home and speak to everyone around them. There are people that can help in directing students to apply to fully funded internships around the world!
I also had a great time eavesdropping other people's conversations in the halls and tables, which was a nice break from the typical stuff one hears all the time :)
I left around 6pm, my shoes were punishing me and my stomach was growling (no food, but lots of coffee and beer if you stick around long enough). But I left with a bag full of souvenirs (I call it Christmas shopping) and the certainty that there are great people all over the world willing to give their all for science and the betterment of the future. I am glad to be part of it all :) I only wish there would be more people like me to look up to, so I don't feel like the pink elephant in the room all the time.
Thank you again, AGU was a great experience to be exposed to."
"Three cool moments at AGU:
- Running into a fellow student on Friday and just going to the session they were heading to(I had planned to see something else but their suggestion was closer) turned out to be a session on an experiment using various amounts of nickel and iron alloys in a test sample to show how the small percentage of nickel in the earth's core decreases the velocity of shear waves just enough to explain why mathematical models using pure iron predict a higher velocity than the real world. I hadn't noticed that title in all the titles in the guide and it was a terrific (and understandable) presentation
- Being included in a technical conversation by two scientists discussing some really odd landforms called Carolina bays.
- Seeing tons of satellite images of the Earth and Mars and Titan and learning what science learns from them. I highly recommend hanging out at the NASA exhibit.
Thanks again for the opportunity. That was a terrific way to see what's going on in a huge number of fields." — SL
Some comments from students who attended in 2010:
"I actually felt smarter walking around among all those scientists and soaking up the atmosphere. I walked into a number of talks during the day and, not surprisingly, they were over my head. But I enjoyed listening to the scientists giving their talks and I thought now and then, I thought I understood part of what they were talking about! It was a good experience for me."
"It was intense and overwhelming in the best possible ways! I went four days, staying for several hours a couple of those days, gained valuable insight on what to expect in a future career, and made a few valuable contacts. While most of the research presented was more advanced than my current level of understanding, there were some topics I did understand and could follow, and I also could understand the scientific methods used to present the findings--in these moments, I felt extreme gratitude to my oceanography and chemistry teachers at City College!"
"I had a little talk with the person in charge of water quality in wells around the Bay Area. Then I found this lady who works on plankton in Taiwan for Academia Sinica. Anyhow, we talked for about an hour or two with one more person from Mississippi. It was a good talk about the research and research life. In all it was a great experience."
"I really enjoyed myself at AGU! There were so many interesting things that I honestly did not know where to start... After a couple of hours, both my feet and my feebly twitching neurons had reached saturation point. I wish I'd been better prepared; I arrived without a pencil, for one thing. This was a great experience, and made me regret the lack of eternal life to explore all these intriguing avenues of science."