ASN 2016, stand-alone meeting

Posters a lot of work.

I am currently preparing for a meeting for The American Society of Naturalists (ASN). ASN normally meets jointly with several other closely-related groups (e.g., Society for the Study of Evolution, Society of Systematic Biologists), but occasionally has their own, stand-alone meeting.

The meeting will be smaller, which is nice. Registration purportedly capped at 250 participants, and I have see that there are 215 people Cc-ed on the emails form the organizers. This is really a good size for professional meetings, as more people with interact with more in the group than larger meetings (think 5,000 at the Ecology meeting), and the intellectual stimulation in a group of fewer people is less exciting.

At this meeting, I will be presenting my postdoc work with Karen to a scientific audience for the first time. I am very excited about finally being able to have some work to share and discuss. The format by which I am presenting is poster. I generally prefer to give talks at meetings of this size because they are much less work! Fifteen-to-twenty slides over 15 minutes gives one much more flexibility for presentation methodology (e.g., animations) and the timeframe to explain what one did. For a poster, however, one must distill the reasoning underlying a study, how the study was conducted, what was found, and what was learned. Forget about the 15-to-20 minutes, in a poster, one has about ONE SQUARE METER to cover all of same material (usually with less time!). So, the goal of a poster is to get the talking points home and wow people with some graphs in a visually digestable piece--above is my attempt at this.

Above I have embedded my figshare image of my poster. Visually, I think that it has a lot of what will help me communicate my message:

  • the sections are clearly delimited, with the pith in a brighter shade of red
  • each section box has a clear heading
  • subsections have clear formatting
  • graphs and font sizes are large enough to read
  • there is not too much text

the last point is especially important to me, with posters. From my experience, it seems that very few people read posters in-depth, and that the poster format is really just a guide for verbal engagement.

I have two major criticisms of this work. First, in the findings section, there are way too many graphs. Each graph is not supposed to be interpreted alone, but rather collectively as for each of the three main panels. Nevertheless, I think that I could have better summarized the findings of each of the three main panels. I would have if I had a bit more time to analyze them, leading me to my second criticism: the work is not fully complete. For many of the models, I have graphically, and analytically or numerically analyzed the model. A few days before I was to print it, I realized that for one of the three main panels, I had analyzed it wrong--yikes! So, I did the best with what I have. I am sure it will be fine for this meeting.

I don't know how many hours I put into this poster, and I don't really want to know! Because I can sometimes really be overly precise and scrutinize relatively trivial aspects of my work (e.g., I was literally measuring every little detail on the poster and entering component coordinates and sizes, like boxes, manually), it took a lot of time. I had no urgency when I started it a few weeks ago, but when I was still working on it within the hour before I could no longer sent it to print, you'd better believe that I completely forgot about those details!

I am eager about the meeting and I feel pretty excited to talk with others about my work.