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MYRES 2012 — The Best Conference I’ve Ever Attended

August 23, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Meeting of Young Researchers in Earth Science (MYRES) 2012 meeting The Sedimentary Record of Landscape Dynamics in Salt Lake City, Utah. The three-day meeting/workshop had ~50 participants designed to bring multiple sub-disciplines under the umbrella of Earth surface processes together to discuss overarching scientific questions. For example, to what extent are the signals of tectonics and climate, which drive erosion (and sediment production), recorded in the down-system depositional segments?  This systems view, also referred to as source-to-sink or ‘landscapes into rock’, has been talked about a lot over the past decade. I’ve been to a few meetings devoted to this topic and this was, by far, the best conference. Perhaps the approach is maturing, but there was a lot of great work (modeling, modern systems, ancient record) presented that is addressing the questions more directly. A website with a summary of the conference, including links to abstracts, talks, and posters, is being put together by the organizers and should be up this fall. I’ll make sure to post about it when it’s up.

The meeting concluded with a two-day field trip to nearby wave-cut terraces of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, the Thistle landslide deposit, and the Cretaceous to modern landscapes in the Book Cliffs and San Rafael Swell areas. I’m a big fan of attaching time in the field, even if it’s short, to meetings like this. I think it’s important to go out and view nature in all it’s complex glory after discussing insightful, yet simplified, models of landscape process-response. Plus, it gives the participants another venue to continue discussions that might lead to interesting collaborations.

If you’ve never heard of MYRES, you’re probably not alone. It is a true grass roots organization (i.e., there is no staff) of early career geoscientists. The organization is relatively new, the first conference was in 2004 and biannually since. If this sounds like an interesting format for the kind of work you do, you should contact those on the website about what it takes to get a conference planned. The organizers for the 2012 meeting worked very hard for several months planning and to obtain funding (from NSF and SEPM in this case). But the end result was amazing, kudos to the conveners for a great event.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2012 6:04 am

    Useful to hear what makes a great conference. I’m getting a bit jaded with the big, ‘gotta-be-there’ events, where it seems to be 80% social and nothing sciencey seems to really get done. And I totally agree, the field element is critical to insight, argument, and progress.

  2. August 23, 2012 6:08 am

    Matt … yeah, I agree, the mega-conferences are great events, but not as much intellectual bang-for-your-buck in my opinion. I really like these multi-/inter-/trans-disciplinary conferences too, I learn so much. Perhaps we need something small and focused like this but for geologic/geophysical disciplines. The key is to hone in on 2 or 3 questions that are specific enough that it doesn’t include all of geoscience, but broad enough to be of interest to a interdisciplinary group. Not an easy task.

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