How to Build a Professional Network, Part IVb: Funding Sources for Attending Scientific Meetings


I’m not going to lie, attending conferences and meetings can be quite pricy…. not to mention the membership fees for the professional societies to which you belong! That’s why it may be best to focus on one large conference or a few smaller meetings to attend a year that are most in line with your professional interests. Keep in mind that registration for large conferences may be required months in advance, so start the funding process early. Here are some ideas for securing funding to attend those meetings:

1.  Sponsor – Talk to your primary supervisor, PI, department head and/or division director about travel funds that may be available. In addition, many universities offer travel grants through their undergraduate research offices and graduate colleges. Such travel funds are normally structured into research grant proposals, so that researchers will disseminate their work to the science community. Not to mention, you deserve the opportunity to see daylight for a change and get away from the lab!

2.  Travel Grants – Most professional organizations offer competitive travel grants to attend their major conferences, and these resources will be listed on the respective conference websites. Here are some links to additional resources on travel awards:

For women:

For underrepresented groups in science – Many national conferences offer a competitive travel grant for underrepresented groups and this information will be on the conference website. Also, many research training programs will also include funds for travel to conferences:

Resources on other travel grants and funding:

3.  Judging – Some conference organizers will cover meeting expenses for researchers to judge poster and oral presentation sessions:

4.  Pay for it yourself – Don’t forget that you (specifically US citizens) may be eligible for tax credits related to the cost of professional development activities in excess of 2% of your annual adjusted gross income. (Note: As the daughter of a CPA who is now an IRS agent, I must do my duty and advise you to seek proper tax counsel related to these tax credits. 🙂 )

5.  Donations – Instead of the Rudolph sweater with the blinking red nose that your mother buys you for the winter holiday this year, consider asking friends and family to donate money towards your attendance at a professional conference, which is a much better use of their money! Also, you can even set up a private website to collect donations and send out the web address to your personal network.

*Note: Some of these resources may be discipline-specific to my background and limited to the US, but think about your area of expertise and translate the ideas to fit your needs. Does anyone have any resources to add to this list? Please use the comments section to share these resources with other science professionals!*

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