Going to Geoscience Conferences
The Department is happy to be able to provide travel funds for majors to attend one scientific meeting each year, even if you are not presenting research. The meetings are a terrific way to learn presentation skills if you present research, to realize the breadth of geoscience inquiry through a huge number of talks and presentations, network with potential employers and graduate school advisers, and talk with people representing graduate schools -- and have a great time with your peers. Declared majors are encouraged to attend; talk to your advisor about this. Travel to conferences is supported by the Kozak, McGuire, Spencer, Schwab Geology Fund.

Here's what one student had to say about her experience:
"The presentations that I attended and the posters that I saw gave me good ideas about how to format my senior thesis work for the Spring. More importantly as a senior, the greatest benefit of attending this conference was that it gave me insight to a variety of graduate schools and programs and potential jobs. To be entirely honest, the graduate school application process has been quite daunting for me, so this experience rejuvenated me and made me excited for graduate school! Additionally, I saw a variety of interdisciplinary, applied environmental, geoscience talks and found them highly interesting."

The two meetings that we usually send students to are occur GSA and AGU. You may seek special permission to attend other meetings.

Annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (usually in early-mid fall): GSA -
Annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (mid December, usually during finals week): AGU -

The minimum time spent at a conference is 2 full days, but the department will support more days if they are spent fully engaged at the meeting. You must have absences from your classes -- geoscience and non-geoscience -- approved prior to making arrangements to attend the meeting. The Administrative Assistant will make travel and lodging arrangements.

The Department will cover:

  • the cost of your travel to and back from the meeting 
  • lodging (shared rooms) while at the meeting
  • membership to the host organization
  • meeting registration
  • meals up to $35 a day

We get you to and from the Roanoke or Charlottesville airports. You should be able to get away with not having to check a bag. Students generally pay out of pocket for meals and transportation to the hotel and the airport where the conference is, and then get reimbursed. YOU NEED TO KEEP PROOF OF PURCHASE AND ITEMIZED RECEIPTS in order to be reimbursed. You can take pictures of receipts. (Proof of purchase show that you paid with cash or plastic; itemized show what it was that was purchased. Sometimes one receipt has all of this information.)

Let the Administrative Assistant know if you need assistance with meal costs. 

In order to go to a meeting you need to:

  1. Submit to the Department Head and Administrative Assistant a justification for funding. Your justification should include your abstract if you are presenting and at least a preliminary schedule of talks and events that you plan to attend. (On the GSA site, look up Program>Technical Sessions>Topical Sessions to see some of what all will be offered.) Also say why you think this would be beneficial to your current work and future plans, or, in other words, what you hope to gain from the experience. You can change up what you actually go to at the conference but checking out what will be going on at the conference will be helpful to you -- and we want to see that you've thought about how you might spend your time there.

  2. The Administrative Assistant will be in touch about what days you will travel to and from the meeting. We will need to know what time you can leave campus and what time you need to be back on campus. Remember, you need to have cleared any absences from classes with professors.

  3. After the conference you need to submit to Department Head and Administrative Assistant a 1 to 2 page summary of your experience at the meeting, including the most interesting presentations and topics you attended, the benefit that attending the meeting had for you, and any new opinions you have about geoscience. These notes will likely be shared with the donors to the fund that supports your travel. Please send the AA pictures of you and others at the conference, at each other's posters, and out and about, and tag @wlueeg if posting on Insta!

Let any of us know if you have any questions about conferences!