As I sit here at the inaugural “SWMF Users Meeting” here at the University of Michigan, I realize that I am listening to many talks in space physics subdisciplines that are far from my regular stomping grounds. It’s an interesting day, though, and reminds me that we all too often limit our scientific interactions to others working in our immediate niche of space physics. This is natural; we have limited time to listen to others and so we focus on attending presentations within our specialty. There is a lot to learn from interdisciplinary interactions, though, and I highly encourage everyone to take the time to listen to presentations beyond their normal scientific comfort zone.
We have several opportunities to do this in the coming years. For one, there is the LWS Workshop on “Evolving Solar Activity and Its Influence on Space and Earth” in early November. The organizers intentionally invited a broad range of solar, heliospheric, magnetospheric, and ionosphere-thermosphere researchers to come together and spend a few days talking with each other. I am a huge fan of these cross-fertilizing meetings and I am looking forward to the week in Portland. Soon after this, of course, there is the Fall AGU Meeting in mid-December. With over 20,000 attendees, this meeting can feel overwhelming. It’s a fairly easy thing to stay in the particular room of your discipline and spend the entire week among familiar concepts. This meeting, though, also makes it easy to wander into the adjacent room or poster aisle and experience a very different set of presentations. It’s worth your while to do this every now and then. This spring, we have back-to-back-to-back opportunities for interdisciplinary interaction, with the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna in mid-March, the inaugural Triennial Earth-Sun Summit, the joint SPA-SPD meeting to be held in Indianapolis in late April, and the AGU Joint Assembly in Montreal the following week. Finally, more opportunities for such interaction exist at the summer meetings of IUGG General Assembly (in Prague in late June) and the AOGS Annual Meeting (in Singapore in early August). I am sure I am forgetting other meetings of this nature, but you get the idea…we have lots of opportunities for extending our scientific experience beyond our regular boundaries.
To tie this post to JGR Space Physics: on the publication front, I encourage you to read papers that are not only in your specialty but also across the scope of the journal. Yes, this takes time, and it is easy to sign up for an alert that tailors the notification to your exact interest. However, it is useful to occasionally read a paper outside of your normal area of expertise.