Demystifying the hosting duties for the UC Davis Ecology & Evolution Weekly Seminar Series

Demystifying the hosting duties for the UC Davis Ecology & Evolution Weekly Seminar Series

By Michael Koontz, Allison Dedrick, and Helen Killeen

The EEB Seminar Series is a weekly opportunity to fortify the ecology and evolution community at Davis. We see cutting edge research by individuals holding positions that we one day hope to attain, we interact with those individuals in casual and professional settings, and we build our academic network in the proces. Students have an awesome opportunity to shape the lineup of speakers by nominating and hosting people of their choosing. When students are more involved in hosting speakers, it is more likely that the diversity of the speakers will reflect the breadth of interests, backgrounds, and future goals of the student body. As best as I (Mike) can tell, 2 students hosted speakers the first year I was at UC Davis (2014-2015), and 4 students hosted speakers the next year. However, 9 out of 28 speakers were hosted by students this year! This is great to see, and hopefully it marks the start of a reenergized seminar series.

Hosting a speaker for the EEB Seminar Series is a great experience. It can be daunting, so we wanted to shed some light on the process in the hopes of persuading more folks (especially students!) to nominate and invite scholars that would best serve their goals for their research training.

Why host?

  • Great way to meet people you might want to collaborate with or postdoc with in the future (broaden your network)
  • Can be a way to meet others on campus who have similar interests as you who you might not have encountered before
  • Have heard anecdotally from a couple of people that they are more likely to accept invitations to speak when invited by a student
  • A chance to advocate for/represent your particular sub-discipline to your peers and colleagues

Tips before hosting

  • Go to a student lunch with a seminar speaker before it is your turn to host to see what it’s like (they’re super informal and a great way to interact with the speaker and stay in touch with your colleagues)
  • Go to a no-host dinner with a seminar speaker before it is your turn to host
  • Enlist the help of your labmates to host someone
  • The official email to introduce the community to the next speaker goes out the Friday before the speaker visits, but there’s no need to wait until then to start planning their schedule! See if your labmates and other folks in the GGE might be interested in a 30 minute, 1-on-1 meeting in advance.
  • Make a schedule for your guest’s visit in 30-minute blocks. Use a Google Sheet so the schedule will be easy to see and modify, and everyone with access will be able to see the most up-to-date information. Be sure to include room locations for each meeting. Here’s the format Mike used when he hosted:
  • Visit the seminar room before the day of the talk to make sure you know how to work the projector, lights, etc. Arrange to have a clicker/laser pointer available for the speaker to use if they want.
  • (more of a tip for nominating): If your speaker is coming from far away, think about other funding sources that might help get them here (like if you already know they’ll be in the area for another reason and this visit could get added into that). Or reach out to other groups on campus – like Bodega Marine Lab or Coastal Marine Sciences Institute — to see if they might be willing to share costs or co-sponsor the visit.

Tips during hosting

  • Tell your guest to have some questions ready for the students during the student lunch, so that your guest will have some time to eat
  • Tell each person on the 1-on-1 schedule to escort the speaker to their next meeting (this is why it is key to have “location” on the schedule!)
  • To avoid low turn-out at either the student lunch or the no-host dinner, individually invite people who you think might be particularly interested in the speaker (especially students not in the GGE who might otherwise not realize the speaker is coming)
  • Ask the speaker if there are any people at Davis they particularly want to meet with during their visit, contact those people first about meetings when setting up the schedule
  • The email to hosts often doesn’t go out until just before the start of the quarter but start planning the visit before then. As the host, you are in charge of connecting with the speaker and the relevant admin people to book flights, hotels, etc. — if your speaker is early in the quarter, don’t wait for the host reminder email.
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