January 14, 2011

Wanted: International Experience

From Allison Meyer

When I started graduate school, I had no idea that I would be able to travel internationally as a graduate student. With support of the Wilson G. Pond Appreciation Club International Travel Award, I was able to do just that, however, and have experiences that I will treasure for a lifetime.

My time “across the pond” began with attending the International Symposium on Ruminant Physiology in Clermont-Ferrand, France, where I also presented a poster on a portion of my doctoral work. Although I had attended several domestic meetings before, this meeting became my favorite up to that point because of its many different learning opportunities. I enjoyed attending the invited talks given by leading international scientists, talking with people from around the world about our research, and traveling around the southern French city. If my inability to speak French was not enough of a clue, I was quickly reminded I wasn’t in the US anymore as I watched the altered presentation format of original research papers. I must say, although I feel like I learned something during every minute I was at the meeting, the lesson I have used most was to expand my idea of how a research talk is given.

After a few days at the meeting, I traveled with my advisor, his wife, and daughter through Paris (a lovely first visit to the city) to Aberdeen, Scotland, for a week’s visit to the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. There I was able to tour the facility, meet with several world-renowned scientists, and even see a few Scottish castles. On several occasions, I wanted to pinch myself to see if I really was talking with someone whose name I had read or cited so many times.

Overall, my 16-day trip to France and Scotland is one of the true highlights of my education. For this, I thank the Wilson G. Pond Appreciation Club and ASAS Foundation for sponsoring this international travel opportunity for students and early career scientists. If you are a graduate student, postdoctoral scientist, or early career member of ASAS and crave a little learning outside the US borders, I urge you to apply for this award, which will cover up to $2,500 in expenses for your international travel. Once you decide what experience you would like to have, be it attending an international meeting, learning in an international research setting, or a combination of both, the application is straightforward and simple. Learn more at http://www.asas.org/award_travel.asp#pond.

International collaboration is of particular importance in the current global economy and research climate, and the ability to communicate to scientists diverse in application and origin is crucial. I hope that you consider applying for this award. If you are not eligible, please encourage students and early career scientists you know to apply.