I returned yesterday from the March Meeting extravaganza in Denver. It was my first experience, so I thought I'd record a few thoughts and reflections.
In most of the talks, I was completely lost, sometimes because I just didn't know the topic, other times because I had no idea what the motivation was (being exhausted didn't really help). It was cool to see how many interesting things were going on. My new resolution is to read as much as I can, so I can enjoy the talks more next year. I was also overwhelmed by how popular my research topic was... (gah) 15 hours of superconducting qubit talks!
I was very fortunate to be placed at the beginning of a packed session. It helps when you have cool results and your supervisors are famous. :) I feel like I really nailed my talk (all the practice paid off). My slides were beautiful; I was fluent and didn't forget anything. I will have to work on coming across as more charismatic and less anxious, but that is just a minor issue. Unfortunately, in stark contrast to the success of my delivery, the question and answer session was a complete disaster. I finished right on time (10 minutes), so people had (ugh) plenty of time to ask me questions I couldn't answer. Yet another thing to work on.
My favorite part about March Meeting was hanging out with friends (both people in my own group and friends in other corners of the country). During the day, I was running from talk to talk and panicking about my own presentation, but in the evening, I drank beer with friends. It was so much fun that I tried to call all my different groups of friends and find a continuous stream of drinking buddies into the night.
A special bonus treat was getting to see my advisor give a prize talk and seeing my name appear on the third (?) slide. I wasn't even born when my advisor did his prize-winning work, so I was flattered that he thought of me. I guess you can die happy when you've done fantastic research, that research has been recognized in the community, and you're surrounded by your loving spouse, friends, and students/postdocs. My advisor was so happy to the point of getting choked up; may we all hope for such a dream to be realized.