Five Conferences You Should Be Attending During Your PhD and Why

Five conferences you should attend during your PhD:

  • Leading international conference in your field – to get to know the experts.
  • Leading national conference in your field – to find local experts.
  • Local special interest group – to solve your specific programs.
  • University conference – to know you are not alone.
  • Leading local industry conference – to find new users or problems to solve.


Hey there, bakers, writers, and rockstars! On Wednesday the 4th of August, I’ll be doing a workshop leveraging your conference presentation or making the most of your conference presentation. So, this week’s blog, vlog, and podcast is all about conferences that I think you should attend as a PhD student in particular.

So, number one, you should definitely look to attend the leading international conference in your field. So, I think you should try to aim for this at least once during your PhD. Depending on how long your PhD is, where the international conference is held, and how much funding you might have. You might aim to hit this target twice but certainly the best international conference in your field at least once in your PhD.

The next conference to aim for is the leading national conference in your field. International conferences are often held sort of every 4 to 5 years. So, that’s one of the reasons why it might be difficult to attend twice during your PhD. But leading national conferences can be held a little bit more frequently than that. Say, every 2 years or even every year. So, aim to at least attend 1 or again 1 or 2 of the leading national conferences in your field.

The third conference you should be trying to attend is your local special interest group. So, the other ones are leading international, and national conferences in your field. They’re focusing probably on the broader area that you might be interested in, whereas now I’m saying you’ve got to go and attend a conference probably on a regular basis at least yearly that is about your special interest group. So, it could be the cells you’re using. The people you’re engaging with if you’re looking at particular people or cohorts. It could be the location that you’re interested in. The techniques that you’re interested in. Something that’s going to be I guess, getting closer to hands-on. Almost like training but not, that’ll help you with your PhD stuff that you could take back to your research space, and pretty much implement straight away. So that’s the third conference you should be attending.

The fourth one is your university conference. So, in response to how students feel about PhDs, universities are increasingly running PhD conferences, and early career researcher conferences many times those are combined. So, I strongly, strongly, strongly advise to attend your university conference for high degree researchers, and I would recommend you do that every year. You won’t necessarily learn about your research, but you’ll learn things like you’re not alone. You’ll make friendships with people who are in your cohort, who are on campus, and these people might end up being the people who hire you later on. Either as an academic or as an industry person yourself or they could be an academic or an industry person. And if you get to interact with early career researchers too, you’ll get an opportunity to hear about the trials and tribulations that they face, and some of the things that are important in your PhD for success as an early career researcher.

And the fifth conference is to attend a leading local industry conference. So, one of the things that even in fundamental sciences, even in basic scientists, even in research that is all about finding out how things operate rather than what to do if they go wrong. We don’t spend enough time looking at industry conferences. Now, I’m not saying you need to translate your research or go on commercialize or anything like that. But going to these leading industry conferences will give you an understanding of the kinds of questions industry are asking. The kinds of answers that industry are interested in hearing about, and how you could potentially formulate new questions that don’t necessarily go to commercial outcomes. But are formed in a way that gets you closer to being able to commercialize. Whatever it is that you might be doing.

So, there you have it. Five conferences that I think you should be attending as a PhD student at some time in your candidature.

Have fun.