Krescent Williams Reflects on European Geosciences Union Conference

Krescent Williams presenting her research at the European Geosciences Union Conference in Vienna

Before attending the EGU conference, I always thought of Rollins as a good school, but at the EGU’s Early Career Scientists (ECS) Debate I learned how valuable my education at Rollins has truly been. The debate wasn’t a normal debate — it turned out that the attendees were actually the ones participating. So as each person arrived, they sent us to tables with 7-10 people each and gave us the question, “should early career scientists use time to develop transferrable skills?”

At my table, there were two people from Germany, one from Switzerland, two from Iran, and one from Turkey. Among the seven of us, I was the only undergraduate and the youngest there, two were professors, one owned her own scientific tech company, and the rest of them were in graduate or Ph.D. school. It was slightly intimidating at first, but once we started conversing, I felt like I had plenty to contribute. Due to the vagueness of the question, we first examined and developed what we thought they meant by and our own definition of “transferrable skills.” Then, another supplementary question we considered thoroughly was, “what are some concrete skills?” For this question, I listened to the entire group as I tried to arrange my thoughts. Once everyone had spoken, I spoke about my double major in chemistry and music, Rollins’ liberal arts education, and how both have led me to believe that the most useful skills in any situation are communication, creativity, and adaptability. The group was impressed with Rollins’ values and methods, and we actually talked about how we could apply them into our research/lives. Having these conversations and getting to hear the opinions/experiences of this eclectic group gave me an unprecedented appreciation for the global community Rollins teaches and cherishes. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Krescent Williams Presents Research at European Geosciences Union Conference in Vienna

Krescent Williams with fellow GeoTenerife summer interns at the EGU Conference in Vienna, Austria

I arrived at the European Geosciences Union Conference in the Austria Center Vienna with  a beating heart and a curious mind. I walked into the first building and immediately met a witty Austrian man who helped me sign in and pick up my registration packet. After, I walked further into a massive room with hundreds of scientific posters, all related to different fields of geoscience. Little did I realize there were five other rooms just like it with poster sessions that rotated several times daily, and another building across the walkway with five floors of lecture rooms and an expo in the middle. Almost 16,000 geoscientists were in attendance in the week-long conference, so to say I was overwhelmed would probably have been an understatement.

Austria Center Vienna hosted the European Geosciences Union Conference

As time progressed, though, I began feeling more comfortable with the layout and structure of the conference. I tried to soak up as much as I could – I went from session to session, hearing interesting oral presentations and interacting at poster sessions. With topics such as UV and IR imaging of volcanic phenomenon, wildfire aerosol analysis, the use of d18-O isotopes in rodent teeth to generate new climate records, and electromagnetic music, I began to finally piece together the vast applications of geoscientific research and the possibilities I will have with my degree in Chemistry from Rollins. Through my experience presenting at the EGU, I felt inspired, challenged, and in a way very at home. I enjoyed speaking with so many scientists of different ages, focuses, and backgrounds. I believe it exposed my mind to career paths and opportunities I had never even known had existed and for that I am so grateful for my summer research experience with GeoTenerife and INVOLCAN in the Canary Islands that allowed me to attend this impactful conference.