Send in a title the minute you agree to give a talk!

All the talks at the Dictyostelium meeting had titles well in advance

There are lists of talks for the semester on our department web page. There are compiled lists for the university, weekly blasts, summer lists, and more. All too often most of these talks have an author listed with the talk title as TBD, to be determined. If we don’t know the author, it could be about gating channels in neurons, fire ecology, or fish development. Even for talks generally targeted at ecology and evolution folks, there is a huge spread.

The titles would not matter so much if we simply went to all the talks no matter what they are about. I tend to do that for our Thursday Evolution, Ecology, and Population Biology (EEPB) talks, but less so for the other series. Titles help!

I think the reason people hesitate on turning in the title is that they have not decided which of their wonderful stories they will share with us. They are anxious to please and want the title to be perfect. Please stop. Just give us a title that covers the general area of study. It doesn’t have to be different from your other titles. It doesn’t even have to have a close match to the subject you ultimately choose. But it will give us an idea as to what we will hear. It is a bonus if it is fun, of course.

And if you are the person inviting rather than the person talking, insist on a title. If your speaker does not give one, make one up. If you have invited the person, you have a general idea of what they do. Once they see your invented title, they may simply like it and use it, or it will inspire them to give a better title. And the rest of us will have a clue.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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