Jan 302013

I’m currently sitting in a nearly deserted terminal at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport waiting to make the first leg of my trip to the ScienceOnline conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. To say I’m excited would be an understatement (I’ve been up since 2:15 this morning and am banking on some serious adrenaline today…), as I’ve been looking forward to getting a chance to attend this conference since I first heard of it 2 years ago.

Why am I so excited? ScienceOnline has become the place for people who are passionate about science communication to get together, geek out, and come up with all kinds of new projects to help share exciting science with the world. As far as I can tell, it’s like if the Manhattan Project collided with Woodstock, but without the risk of total annihilation or psychotropic acid (I hope). I followed along remotely last year, and got really excited about all the cool stuff being discussed, so when registration opened this fall, I knew I had to try and make it (and luckily for me I managed to register in the first lottery window)!

While I’m excited, I’m also incredibly nervous. A lot of the people who will be attending the meeting are people who I look up to in the community, and to get the chance to hang out and talk to them about science is going to be amazing. To me, being a part of this conference will be like taking batting practice with Mickey Mantle, or jamming with The Beatles. Yet, while I tend to be on the quiet/shy side of the spectrum in real-world interactions, I already feel like I’m meeting old friends, in part because I’ve interacted with many of them via social media, but largely because the organizers and participants strive so hard to make it a welcoming environment where everyone is on equal footing, with no special distinctions separating science communicating giants from n00bs like me.

That doesn’t mean I won’t turn into a total fanboy when I meet people for the first time (David Quammen! Ed Yong! Bora!! SO MANY OTHERS!) or even people who I’ve met before (they’re all freaking awesome), but I’m going to do my best to “Keep Calm and Carry On”. So for anyone attending ScienceOnline this week, I apologize in advance for the starry-eyed gazes and toe shuffling when we first meet, but I’ll channel that excitement into discussing all things science as quickly as possible!

Anyways, my plane is about to start boarding, but I’ll be trying to post highlights and various observations/epiphanies here throughout the week, as well as on Twitter and Instagram (morgandjackson). I’ll also be taping a special episode of Breaking Bio so that I can share the experience with everyone. And if you’re intrigued by the whole thing, follow along and participate from home with #Scio13 on Twitter!

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