Currently, my work schedule is rather cramped, and my family demands a lot of time. Not that I mind the latter, having kids is great, and having another (due in less than two weeks) is even better. But it means that I can’t travel right now, and thus I am missing the SVPCA (Symposium of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy) meeting in Lyme Regis. Not that I have ever managed to go to a SVPCA meeting; somehow, it never worked out for a number of reasons (lack of money or time, traveling elsewhere, etc.). Still, Lyme Regis would have been a very nice place to go, not least because of the location. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting in Brighton showed how much nicer a meeting in a small(er) town is, compared to the anonymous huge hotel complexes that normally are the locations of SVP meetings. OK, SVP is always huge, and there aren’t too many places in the US where one can find sufficient lecture halls and hotel rooms in close proximity. In Bristol, despite the much better infrastructure, there still was a lot of running to and fro going on between the big lecture hall and the building that housed the smaller ones. And the poster sessions were elsewhere still. I liked that, it forced people to explore the town, which is very nice. I remember SVP meetings where the only things I saw were airport-shuttle bus-hotel-convention center in hotel-shuttle bus-airport. Suuuuper!
An additional advantage of small meetings is that there are few people there. You can go to every talk, see very poster, talk to everyone you want to talk to, both at the meeting and over beer in the evening. You can even have repeated conversations with the same people, or a group of people, which is often the best way to set up new projects and cooperations. Doing that at SVP is difficult, nearly impossible. Sometimes, you seem to get told by more people about who is looking for you and hasn’t managed to find you yet than you manage to talk to people about the science. Additionally, for us Europeans, SPVCA means that most people there are only a few train or flight hours away, so that cooperation becomes much easier than with someone from the US.
Luckily for me there are other meetings of manageable size. EAVP is the one I manage to go to somewhat regularly. It shifts all around Europe, with the explicit intent to bring West and East together. Thus, locations alternate between Western and Eastern (and Southern) Europe. I’ve attended meetings in Budapest, Brussels, Berlin and Heraklion, missing out on Carcassone, Aix-en-Provence, and Spisska Nova Ves. EAVP is always fun, especially because a lot of people show up who do not go to SVP meetings in force, mainly colleagues from Spain, France, Poland, Checia, Greece, and so on.
So all of you guys and gals in Lyme Regis: have an extra pint for me! Wish I was there! 🙂
oh, btw, I also miss out on the meeting of the Paläontologische Gesellschaft, this week in Vienna. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!