#SCIO12 The Un-Conference

As you might have guessed, I’m a science guy. Sure, I’m not smart enough to understand most of it, but boy does it ever excite and fascinate me. I’m not, however, all that great in social situations. So going to a conference of 450 science communicators, educators, and fans had potential to be quite interesting.

Of course, it’s the only conference I’ve ever been to that had power strips every few feet and wifi hubs in every room to ensure everyone was connected to one another. Thank you organizers and sponsors!

I got to sit in on many sessions and even voiced my opinion once or twice, but by far the thing that makes ScienceOnline special is the people that participate. While I did go to a session during each slot, I got far more out of meeting people in between sessions.

All but about 2 people did I meet that were nice, awesome, and/or cool online turned out to be an order of magnitude more nice, awesome, and/or cool in person. I even heard more than one person say they, “heard that AmoebaMike was here.” That was kind of funny. Celebrity I am not. Not online and not in person.

While I am pseudonymous, I have never hid my actual identity on this blog. If you read the About page, you can see what I really look like (you do have to click through to FB ;-) ). Most people, though, just know me as a cute little guy in a lab coat with a cowboy hat riding an amoeba. So when I did introduce myself, I usually was greeted with, “oh, so you’re AmoebaMike.” I pretty much take that as “of course you’re not as cute as your avatar because how could you be.” Also, I look closer to biker than kid blogger.

Besides the awesome people–oh don’t worry, I will name names (keep reading)–the conference was great because of the inspiration. There were times when I thought of a great idea and surrounded by such greatness I said to myself why not? instead of no, that will never work.

Sure my shyness kept me feeling awkward where it probably shouldn’t have. Part of that since some of these people have been to 3 and 4 ScienceOnline conferences. But, there were more than a few people I connected with that I really hope I can grow a better friendship with in the coming years. Will I go to ScienceOnline in 2013? I don’t know. While it’s not expensive for what it is, it’s still money out of my pocket–I can’t get my employer to pay for it. With AmoebaJr on the way, I have to put myself on the back burner. Of course after more than 6 months of stay at home daddy time, that might just be the cost Mrs AmoebaMike has to pay to get me some sanity back.

Now I will publicly call out people I met at Scio12:

  • Heidi Smith: We didn’t get to talk enough but she was very nice and I hope to make conversation online soon.
  • Kaitlin Vandemark: Awesome physics undergrad I had never heard of before but am hoping to connect with much more and possibly even collaborate with.
  • Carin Bondar: Even more gorgeous and friendly in person. Dr Bondar not only introduced me to Kaitlin, but also tried to help me get out of my shell.
  • Jessica Morrison: A G+ buddy of mine, is just a sweetheart. One of the few to get to bring the spouse.
  • Laura Wheeler: A very nice girl who was in a bunch of sessions with me. We’re kicking the idea around of collaborating together if we can come up with something good.
  • Christie Wilcox: Exactly what you’d expect from her online, which yes, is a good thing. NerdyChristie got me introduced into a few good groups. She’s honestly my favorite science writer–and I told her as much.
  • Cassie Rodenberg: More sweet in person than you could ever get from her great writing on addiction at SciAm blogs. Really hoping to continue conversations online and even collaborate with her.
  • Cara Santa Maria: One of those rare people who just exudes awesome sauce. Yes, exuding awesome sauce sounds a little messy, but I assure you she’s the kind of person I could hang out with every day and continue to find fascinating.
  • Mark Hahnel: Only briefly spoke with me, but really seemed like a genuinely good guy. Since I’m not a researcher, I don’t know that I have a use for his product, figshare, but he’s the kind of guy you want to share a drink and a pizza with.
  • Sheril Kirshenbaum: Yes, she’s been featured here a time or two previously. She’s very much a sweetheart and I was sad I only got about 3 minutes with her.
  • Scicurious: Also someone that has been featured on this blog before, sci is a really awesome person. Her intelligence and personality is like none other in the science community. I would totes be her friend if she let me. ;-)

And now, a proud recipient of a RUN PCR shirt I donated to the Scio12 film fest:

RUN PCR shirt on girl

Photo courtesy of Joanne Manaster, http://www.joannelovesscience.com

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