EGU Conference 2017: Trying out a new type of interactive presentation

Vienna: One of the most culturally rich and diverse capital cities in the world and home to this years’ European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting. I was fortunate enough to attend this meeting during the first part of the week in order to present some of my research.

Situated in the Vienna International Centre, the EGU conference is one of the largest geoscience conferences in the world with over 12,000 attendees throughout the course of 5 days. Hundreds of presentations and thousands of posters are presented through the course of the week, with topics ranging from nanoscale particles to analysing the surfaces of planets and everything in between.


This is just one of the many poster sessions that take place during EGU 2017. Image: Dayl Martin

The session in which I was presenting had a format unique to EGU – it was a PICO session. PICO stands for Presenting Interactive COntent and is designed to provide a lightning-fast overview of research before then discussing the project in the following 90 minute time slot. During this session, the interactivity comes into play with touchscreens allowing any interested individual or party to browse through the projects on display. The scientists can then discuss their projects with the interested parties using the touchscreen to aid their discussion with presentations, videos, and any other uploaded content.


These are the interactive touchscreens. They’re available all week at EGU 2017 for anyone to look at any of the interactive presentations. During the PICO session, the presenters would stand next to their screens to answer questions and discuss their project using the interactive presentation. Image: Dayl Martin

As such, the PICO sessions are an interactive mixture of both oral and poster presentations and exploit the best of both types of presentation for everyone’s benefit. In my session, my co-presenters and I had 2 minutes each to present the ‘essence’ or overview of our topics prior to the 90 minute interactive period. It’s the first interactive presentation session that I have attended and it was certainly a rewarding experience! I think it would certainly be worthwhile implementing this format at other conferences and meetings and if touchscreen are not available, posters would also work well.


This is one of the PICO areas at EGU 2017 where presenters give their 2-minute lightning talks before discussing their presentations at the interactive screens. Image: Dayl Martin

The topic I was presenting revolved around the ongoing experiments taking place here in Manchester for my PhD project, namely analyses of lunar soils using infrared light. Mid-infrared light has a wavelength range of 3-15 µm (far longer wavelengths than visible light which is around 100s nm) and can provide valuable information about the minerals present in a geological sample (such as a rock or powder).

One of the unique methods taking place in Manchester is the ability to map these geological samples at high resolution in infrared wavelengths. It provides us with more information than conventional infrared measurements (that collect a single average spectrum of a sample) and doesn’t damage the sample in any way. This makes it an extremely useful technique to analyse lunar samples (as we really don’t want to damage them!) and to determine what minerals are present in powders from the different Apollo landing sites.

However, it wasn’t all work and Vienna is a beautiful city! I was lucky enough to spend  couple of hours in the Natural History Museum, where there are 5 halls dedicated to geological samples and 1 hall purely of meteorites and Moon rocks!

For the meteorite collection alone, it’s worth visiting Vienna! Image: Dayl Martin

Finally, I would like to say huge thank you to the European Geophysical Union for funding early career participants, of which I was lucky enough to receive funding in order to attend the conference.



About Dayl Martin

I'm currently a first-year PhD student at the University of Manchester studying lunar meteorites and minerals using mid-infrared light. Particular interests of mine are lunar rocks and minerals, geological mapping and spectroscopy of planetary surfaces and the formation and evolution of the Moon. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail. Happy reading!
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