October 12 Day 218: Scientific Road Show

I miss attending events in person—talks, panels, conferences, board meetings, collaborative action network meetings, and even teaching class. I realize that I am able to participate MORE because by attending remotely, the travel time to different locations no longer factors in.

You might think that is a good thing. But the lack of travel time diminishes my preparation. There are no moments of intense focus on the task to come during the journey to get there. No bus ride to collect my thoughts. No plane ride to read (or reread) a massive agenda. No last minute tweaking of presentations in a hotel room. Instead, events get sandwiched in between the normal routine (if anything can be called normal right now.)

I am especially thinking about people honored with special lectureships, where for a year or two they are supported by professional organizations to speak at meetings or chapters around the country. People like

  • Mathematical Association of America’s Pólya Lecturers: Talithia Williams, Harvey Mudd College and Charles Hadlock, Bentley University,
  • The American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturers including Mark Martin, University of Puget Sound, and
  • Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars including Ken Ono, University of Virginia.

Nothing can take away the honor of being chosen and there will be virtual visits, but it doesn’t seem as special. And think about the missed opportunities for students to engage and interact with these truly remarkable individuals.

Oh 2020, may we get past your troublesome ways so we can recommence the scientific road show.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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