We Speak NERD Blog

August 20, 2020 | By Diana Lizarraga

5 Fall Student STEM National Conferences You Need to Know About

If you are a NERD, what could be better than talking with more NERDS? Those were my thoughts as I wanted to share the my fish genetics research project with the world.

A man standing next to a male student research presenter, who is in a wheelchair, next to his research poster. Research conferences create opportunities for you to network.

Previous to transferring to a four-year university, I had been a waitress for nine years. So I had to learn how to navigate the hidden curriculum of research conferences (elaborate place settings at meals, creating an “elevator” pitch about myself, and what to wear. I found going to conferences was a fun way to travel to new places and learn something new. I hope this blog post can help you connect with more NERDS. Tag us on twitter to share additional awesome STEM conference suggestions, @STARberkeley #starberkeley

Nineteen people stand beneath a 2019 SACNAS banner wearing leis UC Berkeley students at SACNAS 2019 in Hawaii.

Conference Considerations

Getting exposure to STEM activities, networks, and research is helpful in creating your STEM trajectory. Usually several activities and events are planned, like research poster sessions, oral research talks, professional development workshops, graduate school and professional societies fairs, cultural activities, vendor tables, plenary talks during meals, networking social events, etc. In my opinion, the best part of attending conferences is connecting with other NERDS, the cross-pollination of ideas, problem solving techniques, and organic conversations can help shape your interests. Conferences often provide these types of opportunities but picking one that is right for you may take a little bit of research. You may want to consider asking yourself some of these questions.

  • What disciplines does this conference focus on? Example - MathFest focuses on Math.
  • Is this virtual or an in-person experience? And if it’s in-person, how far will it take for me to travel to this location? How much school would I miss?
  • If travel is involved, how will I pay for this travel?
  • What are the registration fees (if any)?
  • Are there others going to this event from my campus? Perhaps you can share travel costs?
  • Does the preliminary conference agenda have things that interest me? Like a particular speaker or workshops/talks or a student poster competition?
  • Cal students - if you need conference funding check out Cal’s Student Opportunity Fund

Conference Timing

Conferences happen all year round and often for 2-5 days. It is common that conferences start on a Wednesday or Thursday and go through until Sunday. So understanding what the dates are can be helpful in reviewing your class schedule (along with assignments, exams, etc.) to see if you can balance this experience into your schedule. Also, it should be noted that sometimes professional STEM organizations are so big that they have national and regional conferences at different times. Professors often appreciate a heads up if you will be missing class and why you will be missing it. They too attend lots of conferences, so start a conversation about their favorite conferences.

WHY COMPETE?

​If you have research experience, you should consider competing in a student research poster conference competition. This looks great on your resume but also may come with a medal, certificate, money, or other valuable prize!

Three STEM students, each wearing a research poster medal with ribbon around their neck

5 Fall STEM National Confernces Worth Noting

These national conferences happen annually, so if you missed one this year - just bookmark it for next year.