Last week I attended the 26th annual Congres des Doctorants organised by students of the STEP’UP Doctoral School in Paris and hosted at the Institut de Physique du Globe, near the Pierre and Marie Curie campus of the Sorbonne. The doctoral school comprises physics and geosciences students from almost every university in Paris and I was selected as one of nine foreign students to attend the conference and talk about my research.
The organisation of the conference was impeccable, and the first year PhD students who organised the entire event should be commended for their hard work and attention to every detail. There was a welcome dinner for the foreign students held at a tiny bistro in the Latin quarter which was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. There was also a welcome party for the whole congress the following night, an evening cruise along the Seine, a jazz concert and a closing party on the final evening.
On the science side, the conference was split about 70:30 geosciences to physics, representing the composition of the doctoral school. There were “popularised” talks on Monday and Thursday morning, pitched so that every attendee could follow them, but the majority of talks were more technical in nature. Wednesday was devoted to talks about careers inside and out of academia, with a natural focus on the French system. There were also poster sessions every lunchtime, which every first year student in the school had to contribute to. The general standard of talks and posters was excellent.
My talk was on Friday, very nearly the last of the whole conference. In the end, I removed many of the technical details as I only had ten minutes and was aware that I was talking to a mainly non-cosmology audience. However, it went very well and I was pleased with the number of thoughtful questions I received afterwards.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend anyone to submit an abstract for the congress next year. It was fantastic to spend a week in Paris with a great group of people, learning about new areas of science along the way.