IMCC for Beginners: A Student’s Perspective

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By Katheryn Patterson

If you’ve never been to an international conference, the IMCC is a great way to get your toes wet!

I remember attending my first international conference, only knowing three other people in a brand new country. It was very intimidating for new participants and I had a really hard time getting to know other delegates. When I attended my first IMCC, I was amazed at the contrast.  The laid-back nature of the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) and its incredibly welcoming delegates makes students feel comfortable from the start and allows for ample networking opportunities.

DSCN5073One reason I continue to go to IMCC is that I always find a new perspective or angle for my research after attending, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the congress and diversity of its attendees. There really is something for everyone at IMCC no matter if you are a scientist, in policy, communication, academia, non-governmental, governmental work, or any other field. The list of affiliations and disciplines represented at the congress is endless! For this reason, IMCC has always been a successful venue for students in terms of finding future mentors, graduate committee members, collaborators, funding, and even employment opportunities.

The IMCC organizers and their Student Committee go to extreme lengths to enroll and support student delegates, who account for 23 percent of the delegates at the last congress in 2012. We are expecting an even greater number of student delegates at the 3rd IMCC in Scotland, 14-19 August 2014, due to the close proximity of several universities featuring marine programs in the areas surrounding Glasgow. With this in mind, the student committee has put a great deal of time, effort, and thought into the student-focused activities that will be held this year.

Karaoke, anyone?

Karaoke, anyone?

We always try to offer a good mix of professional-development workshops, where students walk away from the congress with new skills, and social-events – and as we say in the south (U.S.) “Ya’ll, it is time to step away from the books, models, and stats to take the night off to celebrate your successes and make new friends!”

For me personally, IMCC represents so much more than the average scientific conference.  The presenters understand the interdisciplinary nature of the work in this field, which means you don’t find new research being presented simply for the science or raw data—instead, presentations address bigger application questions such as “what do these results MEAN,” or “what applications do these findings have?” Since I believe that many stakeholders have valuable perspectives to offer in marine conservation, this partnership-based approach gives me tools and perspectives that make my efforts more effective.

The Society for Conservation Biology’s Marine Section Board has worked diligently to ensure that there is a great sense of community among our marine section delegates and this is incredibly transparent at our congress. We have great student-specific events lined up for IMCC3 and we hope to see you there!

-Katheryn Patterson is our Student Committee Co-Chair and Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Environmental Science & Policiy, George Mason University. Find her on Twitter @MarineKatPat

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