By Eilea Knotts
I attended the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California this past week. This conference puts me at a year (and a little bit) with the LOREX program. Time does fly by when you are having fun. It all began in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the 2019 Aquatic Sciences Meeting. Here, I met 24 other LOREX fellows who would be embarking on their own research journeys to other countries and labs.
Aquatic and Ocean Science Meetings almost exactly a year apart
Although many of us (myself included) were only there for a short amount of time needed to complete the LOREX orientation workshops and town hall meetings, I would say that we all bonded rather quickly. It may have been due to sharing housing together at a hostel…but I think it was the camaraderie of going through this new program together.
The hostel that a majority of LOREX cohort 1 students shared in San Juan, Puerto Rico
There were no other LOREX cohorts before us. We were the first! Don’t get me wrong. The orientation brought in other students who had done international research before through a different program AND all their advice was applicable to our situations…but it wasn’t the same.
And now a year has gone by and most of the LOREX cohort 1 students have finished their travel (there are a few who started their research recently in Australia so check out their blogs). There were 10 of us who attended the Ocean Sciences Meeting this year to be the mentors for the LOREX’s cohort 2, and I loved every second that I spent with the new and old members of this program. You build new friendships and you rally around the old ones.
LOREX participants for the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting. Looking at the camera, second row back, left to right, Wiley Wolfe and Matt Woodstock.
Top: Hannah Beck and myself at the end of the LOREX orientation. Bottom: Myself at the ASLO booth as ASLO’s Science Communications Fellow.
While there was not enough time to connect with each and every new LOREX member at OSM, I hope that the advice I gave will be useful one day. And to those who are reading this, I will always be available to talk about my experiences and the lessons I learned. For the time being, I plan on helping to mentor the next two cohorts of this current NSF grant as a LOREX participant. As the ASLO Scientific Communications fellow, I get to continue communicating with current and future LOREX members about their travel arrangements, research questions, blogs, and social media outputs, and I can help write the next grant that would continue and expand the LOREX program.
But this won’t always be the case. Someday soon, I will no longer be the Scientific Communications fellow, and maybe someday, the LOREX program won’t exist anymore. But that does not change the fact the I am a LOREX member forever.
No matter where I end up, no matter what I do - I will have this experience to fall back on and friends to reach out to. A major network opportunity began here and I intend on keeping it up. Every time I go to these conferences, I will always look for other LOREX members. I will always be ready to offer my advice on international collaborations and the training I received from ASLO.