I really want to go!

For the first time since this pandemic, I have submitted an abstract to participate in a conference. The last conference I officially signed up for and got a presentation slot at (International Congress of Entomology in Helsinki, 2020), was rightfully cancelled due to the pandemic. I have since only given an invited online talk at the University of Göttingen, a couple of online department presentations, and various lectures at my university. Conferences, however, disappeared into a pandemic void. They simply haven’t been on my radar ever since. And because of that, I’m not on any radar either. I’m just slowly sinking away in the Bavarian mud, until the pandemic is over, and the ecology community doesn’t remember me. I cannot let that happen!

A couple of weeks ago, one conference grabbed my attention on Twitter. The Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting. It’s a small conference, but a conference that brings back good memories. I’ve visited this conference three or four times, during my PhD. The Netherlands being fairly small, and ecology being a niche discipline, it’s a place where you usually find all Netherlands-based (including quite a few foreign) ecologists. I’m not fantastic at networking, but at the NAEM I always did just fine, because I already knew many people. When the Tweet came by, I was a bit on the fence about it. What about the pandemic? What if. What if. What if? Yeah, what if? If numbers are too insane, I guess there will be some alternative schedule. If not, I can always cancel. If I wouldn’t submit an abstract, I would most certainly not be invited to present, and therefore not even go.

This morning, I rewrote the abstract for my current masterpiece in the works, which describes the effects of light pollution on plant-insect interactions from one of my latest studies (I love this manuscript!). While I was at it, I also submitted it right away for consideration in one of the topical sessions at NAEM.

I miss my Netherlands-based friends and colleagues. If there’s a chance to potentially see some of them in early spring, I should take it… And so I did. I’m not sure if it’s the right thing. I don’t even know what right or wrong is anymore. It feels odd. But a lot can change in three months, and I will get my BionTech booster shot this Thursday. I should be alright. I don’t expect things to be anywhere near completely calm, but maybe with appropriate testing and hygienic concepts, a small in-presence conference format could work. I don’t have to decide now. First I need to get accepted, obviously. Fingers crossed.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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