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[Reminder - Deadline Extended] Call for Volunteers: GSC Conference Assistance Committee for ASTR 2014 in Baltimore

Posted By Ira S. Murfin, Northwestern University, Monday, February 10, 2014

ASTR’s Graduate Student Caucus (GSC), the body representing current and recent graduate students within ASTR, is still looking for graduate students interested in volunteering for the 2014 ASTR Conference Assistance Committee. The conference assistance committee is in charge of putting together a comprehensive information packet to help both graduate students and conference attendees in general navigate the conference and the host city - this year Baltimore! We are in need of additional volunteers and have extended the response deadline until February 21st. Please see below for details:

We seek volunteers to form four subcommittees that will each be tasked with independently gathering and organizing useful information to be compiled into an informational packet in advance of the conference. These are:

  • Arts & Entertainment: Provide a guide to performances, music, museums, nightlife, sightseeing, and other cultural activities, as well as general information about walkable neighborhoods accessible to the conference hotel. May need to coordinate with the Food & Drink and Transportation subcommittees.

  • Food & Drink: Provide a guide to a variety of options for food, coffee, & drinking both convenient to the hotel and worthwhile destinations for those who wish to travel farther afield. May need to coordinate with Arts & Entertainment and Transportation subcommittees, especially to identify dining options near performance venues and other cultural attractions.

  • Transportation: Guide to transportation in Baltimore, including driving directions, information on getting to the conference hotel from transportation hubs by taxi, public transit, etc., and information about getting around Baltimore by public transit, on foot, and by alternative methods (bike sharing, etc.) May need to coordinate with the Arts & Entertainment and Food & Drink subcommittees.

  • Conference Navigation: A guide to conference basics, including introducing the different types of sessions at ASTR and how to participate, and highlighting some events and aspects of the conference that may be of particular interest, especially to those newer to ASTR. May need to coordinate with the GSC representatives to the ASTR Executive Committee and a representative from the GSC Web Committee, which has already published some of this information on the GSC blog. It would be useful to have the voice of someone in this group who has attended ASTR before.

Each of these groups will work independently, in consultation with one another and the committee co-chairs, to research and compile a useful set of information for the guide. Some will require more research, writing, and coordination, others are more straightforward. So long as subcommittees work together no individual should have to do an overwhelming amount of work. Once formed, the subcommittees will have 4-5 months to prepare their material before final submission to the committee co-chairs, so there should be plenty of time.

Volunteering for the Conference Assistance Committee is a great way to get involved with the GSC and meet other graduate students in the field. It is also a good professional service credit to add to your CV. You do not have to have attended an ASTR conference before to volunteer, though those who have done so are encouraged to contribute the wisdom of experience, it is nice to have a mix of newer and more experienced perspectives. If you are familiar with Baltimore at all, that is also a plus, though not at all a requirement.

If you are interested in volunteering, please send your contact information and your first and second choices of subcommittees you would like to work on, to committee co-chair Ira S. Murfin at by February 21st.  We will respond with assignments and further instructions soon thereafter.

With thanks,

Areum Jeong & Ira S. Murfin

Conference Assistance Committee Co-Chairs

Tags:  2014  ASTR  Baltimore  conference  Graduate Student Assistance  graduate students  GSC 

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GSC Peer Support Program

Posted By Danielle Rosvally, University at Buffalo - SUNY, Monday, October 21, 2013

By Beliza Torres Narvaez

Greetings new and returning ASTR grad members,  

We are the Peer Support Program! Our goal is to provide grad students attending the ASTR conference the best possible experience by giving "how to” conference tips, serve as network liaisons, help you navigate the schedule, tell you how to get involved at ASTR and the Graduate Student Caucus or simply offer company while you break the ice.

We invite you to stop by our itinerant conference hub near the registration desk, at the breakfast/coffee area, at other conference events, etc (later we will tell you exactly how and where to find us).  Our team of Peer Mentors will be there to help you with any questions or concerns or just to hang out!

Whether it’s your first time at ASTR or you are a veteran, we want to meet you and be your resource! 

Tags:  ASTR Dallas  Graduate Student Assistance  graduate students  GSC 

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Making the Most of Your First ASTR: A Five-Step Program for Grad Students

Posted By Danielle Rosvally, University at Buffalo - SUNY, Tuesday, October 8, 2013

By David Calder

1. No clumping.

This is the conference mantra of Tracy C. Davis. It’s a good one. As a graduate student at your first ASTR (maybe your first conference ever), your instinct will be to seek safety with familiar faces, the other students and faculty from your school. Resist this urge. Spend your time having meaningful conversations with scholars whose work you admire and students from other institutions with whom you can imagine collaborating. Two caveats: first, respect a scholar’s busy conference schedule. It’s probably best to introduce yourself and ask if she can spare a few minutes to chat at some point over the weekend. Don’t dive into your life story between working sessions. Second, read the room. If your academic idol appears to be catching up with an old friend, do not awkwardly insinuate yourself into their conversation. It will just make everyone uncomfortable.

2. Show up.

You are at a conference. Go to the conference. Go to the plenaries. Go to the working sessions. When you apply for a research grant or a postdoc or a job, you will have to comment on the state of your field and your place within it. Conferences are where that work happens. What theoretical frameworks are being debated? What methodologies are being deployed? You may think there are only two or three working sessions that relate to your research. But a catholic attitude toward session attendance will likely reveal unexpected connections among various subfields. Follow those threads. It’s your job.

3. Really show up.

Get involved! Attend the Annual Meeting of the Graduate Student Caucus. The good people of the GSC are always looking for volunteers to serve on committees and in leadership roles. By helping out, you don’t just add a line to the "Service” section of your C.V. You also get to collaborate with students and scholars from other universities. You should also make a note of the ASTR awards for which you are eligible: the Thomas Marshall Graduate Student Award and/or the Chinoy Dissertation Research Fellowship. ASTR wants to fund you. Let them.

4. Pack a snack.

I’ve heard conferences compared to marathons. It’s true the days can be long and grueling, as exhausting as they are exciting. I’ve never run a marathon (curse my exercise-induced asthma), but I can tell you a crucial difference between the marathon and ASTR. At ASTR, you can wolf down three protein bars in the restroom between working sessions. Is it attractive? No. But those people staring at you are just jealous, because they are starving. Keep some brain food on you at all times.

5. Debrief and follow up.

The week after the conference is the time to reconnect with those colleagues you didn’t see all weekend (because you weren’t clumping). It’s impossible for one person to attend all of the ASTR working sessions. So check in with your cohort to see which sessions they attended and what was discussed. Because you all attended a wide variety of sessions (right?), you’ll be able to create a map of the field as represented at ASTR. You should also take a moment to send emails to any scholars who made the time to speak with you. A quick thank you makes all the difference.

Tags:  ASTR Dallas  conference  Graduate Student Assistance  graduate students 

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Fellowships Available for November Conference

Posted By Shaun Franklin-Sewell, Friday, June 21, 2013

If you are an ASTR graduate student member planning to attend the conference, you may apply to receive a fellowship when you register. Here are the steps:

  1. Renew or join;
  2. Pay for conference registration;
  3. Send an email request to requesting to receive a fellowship.
  4. You are required to work 6 hours at the conference in exchange for reimbursement of your student registration fee.
  5. Students are accepted on a first come, first served basis.

If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Erickson, ASTR Administrator, at

Tags:  Graduate Student Assistance 

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