Tips for chairing a session from IGS conference

Wilma visited the remarkable Wairarapa fault as part of an IGS conference excursion.

by Wilma Huneke

After attending the AMOS conference in Canberra, I escaped the heat wave in Australia and went to Wellington, New Zealand, for the International Glaciological Society (IGS) conference on  ‘Cryosphere in a changing climate’.

Aside from the talks on ice-ocean interaction, I was particularly interested in getting a feeling for the main research questions that exist in the adjacent fields.

I gave an oral presentation on my recent work on the dynamics of the Antarctic Slope Current and its impact on basal melting of ice shelves in an idealised regional numerical model. The presentation helped me communicate my project and introduce myself to the community. I received valuable feedback on my work and ideas on what are interesting questions that I might want to ask in the near future.

I also acquired my first experiences in chairing a session. The organising committee asked me to chair a session aiming to support ECRs and to give us the opportunity to gain better exposure and recognition within the community.

In addition to gathering speakers and introducing them, one of the most important parts is to keep time. Thanks to the speakers, this was not a problem in my session.

When it comes to chairing a session, I would advise wearing smart clothes, not to look tired and to be approachable to the speakers of the session that you chair. Being clear about how you will handle time helps avoid uncertainties and always remember that the speaker is probably nervous.

Last but not least, it is the chair’s job to lead the discussion, nobody expects the chair to be part of it. Nevertheless, paying attention during the talk is of course advisable.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the fact that I could help shape a conference.

My chairing had another positive effect as within a week of the conference it helped me introduce myself to another attendee.

I would like to encourage other ECRs to take chairing opportunities where possible.

But it wasn’t all conference sessions. We also took a mid conference excursion where we not only visited a Lord of the Rings film site, but also the Wairarapa fault.

I was impressed by the shift of the surface as a result of an earthquake in 1855. What today looks like a grass hill is in reality the vertical shift of the land (see photo), which is flat on both sides of the fault. What makes this fault unique is a natural gap that makes the horizontal movement of the surface visible. It was one of the first faults where not only the vertical but also horizontal movement during an earthquake could be studied.

I would like to acknowledge the ARCCSS for supporting me with this conference.

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