How to stay warm at scientific meetings: The Four-Step process

Author: Kelsey

We are currently at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas. (There’s a sweet twitter feed, so check it out for snippets of awesome research from attendees!) Thanks to that polar vortex or whatever, it’s 21 degrees outside. So much for a winter conference in Texas, right? After a few miserable moments, we have decided to codify conference thermoregulatory strategy for you, our lovely readers. You’re welcome.

1) Assume the rooms will be over air-conditioned

We understand that it’s hygienic to keep the rooms cooler than your average pub or college dorm room (both excellent breeding grounds for both ideas and bacteria), but sometimes whoever is controlling the magical climate-control nob gets a little over zealous. Also, sitting still for an hour or more leads to heat loss.

2) Dress in classy layers

Sadly, winter hats are usually not acceptable in a conference room, even though we lose a fair amount of body heat from our heads alone! It helps to have warm and cool layers- thinner shirts underneath thicker sweaters and warm coats. Scarves look awesome AND are warm, and gloves are a good call if you have a bit of a walk to the conference center from where you’re staying. We suggest upper body layering for the conference itself, as it is much easier to take off a coat than try to unzip an outer pair of pants without alarming the entire room. Also, you can’t go wrong with smart-wool socks.

3) Jackets are worth it

I (the Kelsey-half of Fossilosophy) always tuck my very thin and warm jacket into my relatively small bag. It’s come in useful several times for me and my colleagues, but it’s light enough that I don’t regret bringing it if I never use it. Microweight down jackets, light windbreakers, etc go nicely in this category.

4) Hit up the hot coffee and tea frequently

Some people might call this the tea break time, but it’s really all about the hot coffee, don’t believe Brianna. That being said, any sort of hot liquid and calories you can ingest will keep your core temperature up longer. The hot cup can also warm your hands. Really, it’s kind of like a ski trip in this way. For bonus points, bring your own travel mug so you can fill up a larger cup during the break and have hot, delicious coffee hours later when the mean people have taken the coffee service away.

Cold-weather whining aside, it has been a most excellent conference. I hope these handy tips will save you from shivering away and missing the nuance during the kickass symposia at your next conference.

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