Students Welcome at IMCC


By Sophie Wassermann

If you’re a student like me, taking any and all advice on how to get a career in marine conservation (maybe a salary?! A job?! A funded PhD?!), you constantly hear that attending conferences is a key way to network. Now this advice is easily supplied, but it can be difficult to undertake. The first conference I went to was in the middle of the winter and the only person I knew, my roommate for the weekend, was grounded due to a storm. I spent that conference trying to meet people, but largely afraid to do so.

“Networking” isn’t the easiest task in the world, but it doesn’t have to be painful, as I learned at my first International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) two years ago. This time, I had friends attending, but I also sought out the student events. There were lunchtime discussions and a workshop on elevator pitches, culminating in a night out at the end of the conference. Through the student events, I met people, then would sit next to them during presentations; tackling that tricky problem of making friends as adults (is that what networking is?).


Image: Sophie presenting her poster presentation at IMCC3 in Glasgow

This year, at IMCC4, I am part of the Student Activities Committee because I do not want anyone to feel like I did at that first conference. Entering the academic sphere, especially for the first time, can be daunting, but the IMCC community is friendly and open, goofy, and dedicated. The Student Activities Committee has arranged a variety of events, including a lunch with the plenary speakers, an event to practice networking and interviewing skills, and a trivia night. In addition, we’ll set up locations for meet-ups during coffee breaks, and we can help you find an inexpensive place to stay. Even if you’re not presenting, the conference will be a chance to hear about amazing work from around the world, conducted by wonderful people. If you can’t tell, I had a great experience at my last IMCC and I can’t wait for this one. I hope you’ll take advantage of all of these unique opportunities and I can’t wait to see you there. You can sign up here to attend IMCC4.


Sophie Wassermann is a Masters Student at Trinity College Dublin. She is a also a member of the IMCC4 Student Activities Committee.


The Career Catalyst: A Student’s Perspective of IMCC4


by Matt Tietbohl

As a graduate student, there is only so much time you can spend in one day reading interesting journal articles and following up on your many interests. There are a myriad of other responsibilities you have. To start, there is your thesis which is likely taking up the majority of your time, leaving little room for much else. In that small window of time outside this you must find time for other important activities to help maintain your sanity such as staying in touch with family and friends and exercising. This doesn’t include other, smaller responsibilities you have like checking emails, cooking dinner, completing approval forms for your research, attending seminars, and cleaning the apartment among many other things. And what about volunteering or any outreach you might be interested in to share your science and interests with others? The point is, as graduate students, we have a lot on our plates and not a whole lot of time to read, especially articles or papers not directly related to our thesis work. One of the great things about scientific conferences, like the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC4) is that they allow you to do just this, in a fast paced form!

“A launching point for your career…”

We all hear from our professors and older graduate students about how important conferences are and how they can be a launching point for your career, and there are some great articles on the web to read more about this (here, here, and here). At a conference, you are surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people, brought together by some common interest for a short window of time. In this whirlwind of activity, nearly every talk you see will contain data from one or likely multiple publications. In the span of a few days, you will be exposed to multiple months’ worth of reading scientific literature in a wide variety of research fields you might never have dreamed of finding any interest in! You may be exposed to more data and research in less than a week then you have been so far through your entire graduate studies! Conferences are amazing places to catch up on a lot of high quality research, especially research that, though distantly related to your thesis or simply of great interest to you, you might not normally find time to read about in your busy schedule. And this is only one of the many amazing reasons to attend a scientific conference!

“There is no better chance to reach out and forge new connections and friendships…”

At a conference, you also have a chance to share your knowledge and research with others and show them what a great scientist you are. You can excite other people! Equally, if not more important, is the chance to network. Conferences are not like going to another lab meeting with the same dozen or so people every week. With this diverse group of fellow scientists around you, there is no better chance to reach out and forge new connections and friendships; these may turn into future collaborations or even job offers or something completely unknown. It’s impossible to guess what may come out of a conversation with another researcher, but the possibilities are endless. And this, along with what I mentioned earlier, are why I could not be more excited for this year’s International Marine Conservation Congress meeting hosted by the SCB Marine Section!


Student attendees at IMCC 2014 in Glasgow, with plenary speaker Elliott Norse

I have been to a few conferences before and will have a chance to get to two more this summer (ICRS and IMCC4). While I am certainly excited for both conferences this summer, I am especially excited to travel to St. Johns in Newfoundland and Labrador for a conference focused around marine conservation science and “Making Marine Science Matter!” As a marine scientist, I care deeply about our oceans and all the wild creatures that can be found below the surface. I believe scientists, graduate students included, play a key role in studying these marine ecosystems and organisms to learn as much as we can. The more we know about how marine life and ecosystems work, the better equipped managers, fishers, politicians, and others will be to use and manage the marine environment in a way without doing it undue harm.

“The chance to network with and hear conservation success (and maybe failure) stories from people who have been actively involved in marine conservation is tantalizing.”

What I am really excited about, is that at IMCC4 there won’t only be scientists who study marine systems themselves and how they work, but scientists that study how to conserve these systems, how to work with locals and government, and how best to navigate the tricky waters of marine conservation (among other topics). My thesis is not directly involved in marine conservation efforts, but this something I find hugely important and fascinating to learn about! There will be so much to absorb and so many great people to meet! The chance to network with and hear conservation success (and maybe failure) stories from people who have been actively involved in marine conservation is tantalizing.

Today, I do not know who I will meet, and I do not know which talks I will end up attending, but what I do know is this. IMCC4 is an amazing chance to take a small step away from my thesis work and submerge myself in the massively important realm of marine conservation science!

And who knows? An exciting collaboration or opportunity just might result. And even if it does not, I will have learned a lot about marine conservation, learned key information I can use down the road as a marine scientist and conservationist! As I work on writing up an abstract, I look forward to the new friends I will meet and the new knowledge I will gain. I would strongly encourage any graduate students reading this who are interested in marine conservation at any level to consider joining us this summer. You never know what great opportunities may arise!


Matt Tietbohl

Author: Matt Tietbohl

Matt Tietbohl (@MattTietbs47) is a masters student at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia where he is studying coral reef food webs. Though keen on the nitty-gritty details of how coral reefs function, he is a big advocate of marine conservation science and #OceanOptimism; Matt loves learning about how best to conserve the world’s beautiful marine ecosystems in a way that benefits both man and nature. He is a member of the Communications Committee for SCBMarine, the Oceans Online Communications Chair, and helped to organize the first #HearttheOceans Day!

Reasons to attend IMCC4: A teacher’s perspective


By Patrick Goff

I can’t wait to get to the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress! I am excited to be able to meet so many awesome scientists that I have met through Twitter in person. As a science teacher, I need to attend more science content conferences so I can keep abreast of what is current and relevant. I know I need to keep up to date on applicable science content standards (Next Generation Science Standards – which I love, and if you want to know more, please ask me!). The more scientists I talk with to develop more connections, the better I know the science I am teaching,  the better my class will be for my students! That is the ultimate goal for any teacher – how can I help my students to better learn?

Patrick Goff

(Patrick Goff)

My name is Patrick Goff, I am an 8th grade science teacher in Kentucky, and I have the privilege of being able to attend the conference this fall. I have to admit, I had no idea this group even existed before this year! Through Twitter, looking to find scientists who would work with my students or Skype in, I found Samantha Oester (SCB Marine Section President-Elect). I feel lucky to have found such a dynamic scientist to engage with online and with my students. She invited me to the conference to share some of the work I am doing with student/scientist mentoring programs. My first thought was, “Me?? Really? Why would they want to hear from an 8th grade science teacher? I’m just a teacher, and they are all accomplished scientists.” I was very intimidated to even think about presenting, even if it was just a poster presentation on a topic I absolutely love. Then I thought, “I am a science teacher! And what better way to help my students than to better my content knowledge and make new contacts who might help my students.” Those contacts have become absolutely invaluable to me.  I can always ask any of them about current research, making sure I am saying ideas the right way, and then being able to pair my students up with them for certain projects.


(A scientist Skyping into one of Patrick’s classes)

Why should you, as a teacher, attend IMCC4? You will get to learn more pure science and meet some rock stars of the science community. The better we know our content, the better we can use all the ways we can to help our students better learn the science, and, in turn, to better act like scientists. What greater examples can we give them when we say, “You need to think and act like a scientist” than to meet and talk with actual practicing scientists?! This will be a phenomenal chance to make your own connections and to set you and your students up for some exceptional experiences! So go ahead – register for this amazing conference!


Patrick Goff is an 8th grade science teacher in Lexington, KY with 15 total years of teaching. He has a BS in Secondary Education, Masters in Administration and is National Board Certified in Early Adolescence Science Education. He is also a board member of the Kentucky Science Teachers Association. Twitter and blogging have become two of his new favorite ways to increase his interaction between scientists in the field and the students in his classroom. Goff is a founding member of the @NGSSblogs project where many teachers are now blogging about their adventures through the Next Generation Science Standards implementation.