I’m not going to lie, attending conferences and meetings can be quite pricey, 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 and societies offer competitive travel grants to attend their major conferences, and these resources will be listed on the respective conference websites. These organizations usually offer travel grants specifically for underrepresented minorities and may provide childcare grants too (e.g., FASEB Diversity Travel Awards and ASBMB Travel Awards).
Here are a few other resources to find other travel grants and funding:
- Grants and Funding Databases (list of searchable databases compiled by Science Careers)
- Travel Funding Programs in Multiple Disciplines (broad list of travel grants by discipline and compiled by U.C.–Berkeley)
3. Judging/Volunteering – Some conference organizers will cover meeting expenses for researchers to judge poster and oral presentation sessions (e.g., Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students). Check with conference organizers about other volunteer opportunities.
4. Pay for it yourself – Don’t forget that you (specifically U.S. 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 – Consider asking friends and family to donate money towards your attendance at a professional conference in lieu of holiday or birthday gifts. Also, you can 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 the biological sciences and limited to the U.S., 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.