Thursday, June 30, 2011

American Society of Mammalogists Meeting June 24-28, 2011 or My Trip to Portland, OR

I recently attended the annual meeting for the American Society of Mammalogists in Portland, OR. Despite its reputation, the weather held up for most of the time I was there, and we only got some drizzle on the last day.

I really liked Portland, and it's a place I would definitely go back for another non-work related visit. I really liked how easy it was to get around, how relatively clean it was, and all there was to do. I went to the Saturday Market (which actually goes on all weekend), which was really neat to see. It's basically a huge craft fair/flea market and you can find a lot of unique hand made items. I got a nifty bronze and copper barrette.
Portland State University was also really nice, it's right in the middle of the city but it doesn't feel overly city-like when you're actually on the main part of the campus. During the first day of the meeting there was a huge farmer's market going on right in the plaza area of campus, which made for a really convenient place to get lunch. The growing season there is several weeks behind NM, so it was a treat to see all the late spring veggies and berries.

I stayed with a friend while at the meeting. Fred's mother lives in Gresham, OR, which is really close to Portland. Fred, Matt, and I camped out in her mom's living room, and we enjoyed the added company of Jack the dog and Darwin the cat. We took the light rail in to get to and from the meeting, which was about an hour long trip, but it was convenient none-the-less. I can always appreciate cities where you don't really need a car. I could live in a place like Gresham, or any of the other cities near Portland. They're all just really convenient, and you can get just about anywhere between the light rail, a bus, and some walking. Portland is actually pretty eco-friendly, as far as cities go. They recycle everything, and it's one of the few cities I've seen that composts.

The meeting itself was very enjoyable. I personally prefer smaller meetings to the supersized meetings I sometimes go to. This was my first mammal meeting, and it's the first meeting where I was in the minority as a paleoecologist. Unfortunately, there was a mix up with my abstract and I ended up presenting in a session that wasn't ideal. But, the show must go on, and it went alright. Not my best talk, but certainly not my worst. I did have a couple of people approach me about my work with some interest, which goes to show that I am, in fact, my own toughest critic.

The final day of the meeting was really good because I saw some really interesting posters, got some really good deals on reference books, and the keynote talk was also fantastic. Liz Hadley from Stanford gave the talk, and it was on Pleistocene paleoecology and really highlighted how paleontology is relevant to modern ecology. The whole talk was basically about all the things that keep me up at night, so I really enjoyed it. Liz is also just really cool and a really great speaker. She's definitely on my list of amazing female scientist role models.

Here are a few non-meeting related highlights from my trip. I know it starts to sound a bit like a travel guide, but honestly, if a good time can't be had at a conference (or during field work for that matter), then you're doing it wrong:

Multnomah Falls - a really good afternoon hike, beautiful scenery, and I saw TWO pikas. Very appropriate for my first mammal meeting! If for some reason you don't know what a pika is...

South Park Seafood Grill & Wine Bar - I was disappointed with the mussel & sausage appetizer, but everything else I tried was delicious. Kind of pricey, I recommend the butternut squash ravioli, and Fred enjoyed the smoked salmon salad. The wine was also very nice, and I had a Sparkling Elderflower cocktail which was fabulous.

Saturday Market - Lots of hand made goodies! North Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza. The portion near the waterfront has the most hand made stuff.

The Seafood Groto - This place is tiny but good! Matt and I broke a cardinal rule by going to a restaurant on a Monday, but we still got a nice (but again, pricey) dinner. The crab stuffed mushroom caps and hazelnut crusted halibut are really great.

Saturday Farmer's Market at PSU - Located right in the middle of Portland State University is a really nice farmer's market. An excellent place to get a bargain lunch that is delicious. You can also buy really fresh fish, and the berries in June are just beautiful.

Powell's Books - The world's largest book store that takes up over a city block. I got some good deals on books, and they have just about everything.

Voodoo Donuts - They're going through a remodel right now, so the hours can be kind of iffy, and if you try to go during the day on the weekend, be prepared to wait in line for at least an hour or more, no exageration. We went at 11pm on a Tuesday, but were still able to get a decent selection considering they were out of a lot of things. They also have a really large selection of vegan donuts, and I've heard their maple bacon donut (so not vegan) is really good. I'll definitely go back to try and get it.

Hotlips Pizza - Definitely a good place for a delicious slice and good drink, right near PSU. They offer up a variety of guest microbrews and they make their own fruit sodas. I got the raspberry soda which was on tap, and two slices of veggie/vegan pizza. You can get a large slice of pizza and a (good) beer for $6. Did I mention they have HUGE fresh cookies? The service is also really quick and they have both indoor and outdoor seating.

Rogue Brewery - There are a lot of breweries in Portland, and I want to go back and try them all (wishful thinking, haha), but this is arguably the most famous. I went to the Rogue Hall on campus, it's under a dorm for Pete's sake. They have all their beers you can find nationwide in stores, plus a bunch of others which you can only get at the brewery. I was very happy with their Mocha Porter. Also, there was free Rogue beer at all the social events for the meeting, and the Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale is really really good.

McCormick & Schmick's Pilsner Room - Another good place to get a beer, not to mention the best place I did my networking at the conference. They have an extensive selection of guest brews on rotation, and they do their own on the premises. Most of their beers can be had for about $5 a pint, or they have a sampler of 6 varieties for $9. Plus it's down by the marina which has a nice view.

1 comment:

  1. Glad that you had a good time in Portland! Considering that I am around Portland State all the time being a student there and all, it's interesting to hear about another's experience with nearby staples i.e. Hotlips Pizza. I am glad that you found that place and not many others as unfortunately Portland restaurants put an emphasis on kitschy design, eclectic menu choices at the expense of decent customer service.

    It is funny how for being a city that in a lot of respects it's not very city-like; people don't drive nearly as fast or aggressively as they do out east, or even up in Seattle. Compared to a lot of other major cities there's a much greater emphasis on cleanliness and litter collection. I think that having bottles be returnable helps quite a bit with keeping the amount of trash out there down.

    As far as weather goes, I think that you got rather unlikely during the stint that you were here. This June has been much cooler and drearier than average (along with the rest of the year for that matter). On one hand I do appreciate the mildness of the temperatures when I am exerting myself outside, on the other, what I wouldn't kill for some truly sunny days.

    At any rate it seems like conferences can be cool in a lot of ways; sharing your ideas, meeting with others in the field and of course experiencing somewhere new. Hopefully the next time you come out to the northwest the weather is better and get an even better sense of how beautiful it is here.