Graduate Women in Science National Conference

Last week I headed down to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 95th Annual Meeting of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS).  GWIS is a wonderful organization that I have been a part of for the past three years. Started in 1921 at Cornell University as Sigma Delta Epsilon Graduate Women's Scientific Fraternity, GWIS has grown over the years to incorporate many chapters across the globe. Something I love about GWIS is that we are a multi-generational group of women from diverse geographical areas and scientific disciplines. This year we revitalized our brand, image, and mission, so I was really excited to move forward with our progress at this year's meeting. 

The first two days consisted of business meetings for the National Council and Grand Chapter members. As the outgoing Chair of the Public Relations committee, I was part of both of these meetings. We spent a lot of time discussing our new initiatives for next year, including building a formal mentoring system and coordinating outreach across chapters. I will be chairing the new 'Lead' committee next year, so if these initiatives sound interesting to you, please get in touch! 

We also took time to celebrate the launch of our new brand, which included our new logo, colors, website, and mission. I was part of this year's Branding Committee and am so happy with the results. At the end of the two meeting days, we inducted the new National officers. I am excited to report that I was elected Vice President and can't wait to serve GWIS in this role!

2016-2017 GWIS National Council: Rozzy Finn (Editor), Michelle Booze (President-Elect), Stacey Kigar (President), me (Vice President), Laura Havens (Past President). Front row: Jennifer Ingram, Tina Hill, Anne Pumfrey, Jane Sharer Maier, all members of the Board of Directors. 

2016-2017 GWIS National Council: Rozzy Finn (Editor), Michelle Booze (President-Elect), Stacey Kigar (President), me (Vice President), Laura Havens (Past President). Front row: Jennifer Ingram, Tina Hill, Anne Pumfrey, Jane Sharer Maier, all members of the Board of Directors. 

After two days of meetings, the main conference began on Saturday. The theme of this year's meeting was "Educating Scientists for Effective Science Outreach" and kicked off with a keynote by Dr. Holly Menninger. She gave an awesome talk with lots of advice for how to get started in science outreach. Next were several concurrent sessions, and I gave a talk on some recent research I'm doing on musical aesthetics (which I'll be presenting next week at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition - more on that later!). 

After the talks, I spent the rest of the day doing some science outreach at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  A particularly interesting aspect of the museum is the way visitors can observe real scientists in their labs. Instead of being hidden in a separate wing, the labs are fully integrated into the museum. The labs have glass walls so that museum goers can peer into the lab spaces and see real scientists doing real science. 

The museum also had the coolest space for talks. With a massive screen, stage lights, and an audience on all three floors of the museum, I felt like I was giving a TED talk. It was fun to engage members of the public and hear their questions about my research. 

Speaking at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Speaking at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

After the trip to the museum, we headed to the NC State Arboretum for a banquet where I was awarded First Place for my talk. 

Overall I had a great time at the GWIS meeting. It was fun to see many friends I've made over the years and meet some new people (including three other Iowa PhD alumni!). If you're interested in learning more about GWIS, feel free to get in touch. I love telling others about this amazing organization and hope you consider joining us!