Science is not something you do on your own. It may sometimes look like that if you count all the lonely hours behind the computer, but the best results will always be reached together with others. This collegial help manifests itself on a variety of levels: it can range from a quick question to the colleagues sharing my office, over the highly valuable discussions with and input from my supervisors, to international collaborations to compile and process global databases.
It is extremely important to work on an extended scientific network. In my situation as an early career ecologist, I can climb to unexpected heights by just asking the help from people that have many more years of experience. Other scientists hand over awesome ideas for new research directions, fresh views on problems you were already struggling with forever, or a background that gives them crucial expertise you do not (yet) have on your own.
With that philosophy in mind, I will travel to France, next week. I got the (highly appreciated) opportunity to represent my supervisor at a scientific workshop in Loches, in the Loire region. I am preparing for 3 days of interaction with other scientists working on the same subjects as I am. Such things provide an incredible learning experience!
Moreover, some of the ‘big names’ in my discipline will be there to give presentations! The benefits of those encounters are simply endless, trust me.
Additional advantage: the workshop will bring me to the medieval city of Loches in a picturesque part of France where I have never been before! Visits to France are always a nice experience, which I try to prove with pictures from previous visits to the country.