Now that I have had some time to sit down and relax after getting home from almost two weeks of traveling between the Bill Kimbel inaugural Lecture at the new IHO campus in Tempe, Az, and then, of course, to the AABAs in Reno, Nv, I thought it would be fun to tell you, folks, about how it went, what I learned about my first conference, and what I can Impart onto any future conference goers, as well as give a window into what was going on in general! It was organized chaos! But it was terrific, and I have very few if any, negative things to say at all.
So let’s get into it!
We will go in chronological order; thus, we will start with Dr. Bill Kimbel Inaugural Lecture, the first in the new lecture series put on by the Institute of Human Origins (IHO) and Arizona State University (ASU), which was on April 15th, a Friday. We arrived that afternoon at our hotel, got ready, and proceeded to the new Tempe ASU campus for the cocktail hour and lecture, which was going to be given by famed Dr. Bernard Wood, a close friend of Dr. Kimble’s.
I will be candid this was the first event of its kind that I have attended in my adult life, I had been to plenty of fancy events as a child for my parent’s work, but none that I was attending for my wants, so it was a little awkward. I did not know anyone save Kota, my partner of nearly ten years. We tootled around a little, ate some the good food, and looked at the silent auction hosted to benefit a new undergraduate position at ASU to continue Bill’s work; at least, that is the hope.
We all got seated in the theatre for the lecture, which was a lovely venue on the beautiful newly built Tempe campus. The lecture was great, there were funny and sad parts, and overall it was very educational, learning about the work Dr. Kimble had touched and the many ways he affected the field. His family was there, and the whole event was a great experience. I tried to remember how solemn of an event it was while also enjoying something wholly new to me – a part of the field that I had never seen. I would find myself thrust into a portion of the field in less than a week!
After the lecture, we returned home for a few days before heading to Reno for the 92nd annual AABA conference, which would also be the first event I would attend; I was thrilled! I was excited to go and meet so many people I had met online and interviewed on my Youtube show “The Story of Us,” as I knew many of my guests would be in attendance.
Aside from a flat tire on the morning, we were to depart and a delayed dinner, the drive from Los Angeles to Reno went without a problem, and we arrived the evening before the conference started.
The first day I attended a workshop on understanding how to analyze ancient DNA data was fun. We got to do some of the work on our computers (for those who could get it working), and that was very educational and a skill I will need to practice, but I now know how to do it! After that, I met with the first people I knew, chatted for a bit, and then explored until it was time for dinner, which I had with the beautiful Dr. Briana Pobiner, who had been helping me prepare for the conference. Still, I would soon find that would take me under her wing for the entirety of the week! I could not have been more fortunate to have someone like that in my corner!
After dinner, it was time for the opening reception, which I quietly snuck into; the introvert that I am, unable to hide from Briana for long before she was so kind as to introduce me to practically everyone she knew who walked in the door. Talk about making connections!
The next few days were filled with awesome symposiums, including an entire day dedicated to the work Dr. Bill Kimbel affected in the field, with many famous individuals showing off the result they were involved in with Bill. Some of the other highlights were, surprise! Briana would shock me again by inviting me as her +1 to the President’s Dinner! Talk about imposter syndrome! I was having trouble being there in general, but now to go to this exclusive event, where I chatted, drank, and met even more people! It was terrific, throwing another curveball at me; after the night, Dr. Pobiner invited me to the education committee meeting, which I imagined consisted of quite a few people, and I would slide in unnoticed.
The next day, my alarm went off an hour late, and I awkwardly walked into a small room with a long table and about 10-15 people sitting around it! This was more of a board meeting than I was expecting! I sat quietly, respecting my current position, and learned a great deal about where the AABA is going with its outreach in the coming year; I learned some things I could apply to you guys and even gave a tip or two! It was great!
After another day of biological anthropology fun, it was finally time for the closing reception and to say our goodbyes to everyone, but not before meeting even more new people, scheduling some episodes of “The Story of Us,” and just having a great time! I love being among my people for the first time that I can truly remember, feeling like I belonged in a way that I have not before, not having to explain my thoughts or ideas, but having people already know of them, or have ideas of their own! Being among like minded people was so utterly refreshing!
Leaving the following day, we had a safe and sound drive home, and I cannot wait and am already planning for the AABAs 2024, which will be in my backyard in Los Angeles!
See you there!