Who's the new guy?

A veteran meeting attendee finds he has to pay attention this time.

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Photo of David Fisichella
David Fisichella

When I was first approached to help report on this year’s Ocean Sciences meeting in Hawaii my first reaction was “Sure, why not"? After all, I am going to be there anyway and I have a half-dozen such meetings under my belt. The routine of concurrent session talks with hundreds of speakers and a sea of glossy posters has become familiar territory. Shortly after committing to the task however, I had second thoughts. All of my previous experience at scientific symposia has been assisting my visually impaired wife, Amy Bower , a scientist in the Physical Oceanography department at WHOI. I helped her navigate the maze of lecture halls, phonebook size abstract guides and Power Point presentations stuffed to the screen edge with terabits of oceanographic data. Like a dedicated guide dog my role was to get her where she needed to go and parrot what I could see into her ear. Comprehension of all this material was nowhere in the job description.

Next week will be different. The expectation is that I will not only decipher the charts, graphs and ten syllable words for salt, but somehow translate it all for others to understand. I have a feeling that for this meeting, Amy will be guiding me through the technical language of her science, and sharing the finer points of the Coriolis force over scrambled eggs. I am also looking forward to viewing science presentations through the perspective of my new role in the WHOI SSSG and see how the field support we provide helps lead to published results.

So if you think you have the stomach for it, check in periodically and see what oceanographic research looks like through the eyes of a nuts and bolts engineer.


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Last updated February 17, 2006
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