I'm at a conference and I really enjoyed a plenary lecture by a speaker. His work resonated with some of the stuff I have been working on myself.

I have a Journal Club presentation coming up soon in my lab and I'm planning to present a few of his recent papers along with other perspectives in the field. Would it be ok to ask for a selfie at the conference dinner to put in the presentation?

In general, is it acceptable to ask scientists for selfies? I doubt that it matters, but the field in question is protein chemistry.

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    Many people detest selfies, but perhaps the speaker is gracious enough to let you have one if you explain why. Really, there is no way to know. It's tacky, though, so you are better a younger student if you do this :-) – Captain Emacs Feb 6 '17 at 9:10

Yes, it is acceptable. I heard a rumor that scientists are human beings. I have not been able to confirm it, but it seems like a plausible assumption, and if you are willing to accept this as a working hypothesis, it follows that it is acceptable to behave around them as you would with other human beings.

In particular, most human beings are flattered if you approach them with excitement and admiration and ask to have your photo/selfie taken with them because you want to brag to your friends (or whoever) about meeting them, and would either happily agree or (less likely, but possible) politely refuse. Scientists - even protein chemists! - are no exception to this rule.

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    And to confirm your hypothesis that scientists are human beings even when it come to pictures, I can tell you that two of my students asked a Nobel prize, in different occasions, to have a photo with him. He happily accepted. – Massimo Ortolano Feb 6 '17 at 17:45
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    @MassimoOrtolano sure, this is supporting evidence but is purely anecdotal with no statistical significance. Clearly more research is needed on this question. – Dan Romik Feb 6 '17 at 17:55
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    Funny anecdote about scientists being human beings: a few years ago I met a student of mine in a supermarket. He was shocked. The next week he came to my office to take an exam. He confessed that at the beginning he was really shocked to meet me there, but then he thought: "well, they have to eat too, after all". I told him: "thank you for considering us professors human beings". – Massimo Ortolano Feb 6 '17 at 18:03

Here is a better idea.

Ask if you can have your picture taken with them. Ask someone else to hold the camera/phone.

And don't ask at the dinner, ask before or after if the opportunity presents itself. Don't be that guy that pushes through people to ask someone for a photo op.

Tell them how much you liked their lecture, etc.

Also, just to cover all bases a Forbes article on business dining etiquette The list at the end is the biggest thing to pay attention to.

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    Asking someone else to take the photo does seem more dignified. – Chem-man17 Feb 6 '17 at 12:19
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    @VarunM I really don't see how the mode of photography makes any difference whatsoever to how dignified the request is. There may be some stuffy people here who disagree, and I think they may have a point when it comes to single-person selfies (which I do find a bit overly narcissistc myself), but taking a selfie with another person is just a convenient (and perfectly normal and acceptable in 2017) way to frame the picture and get it over with quickly, nothing more. – Dan Romik Feb 6 '17 at 17:59
  • @DanRomik, it's totally fine. I appreciate contrasting opinions. – Chem-man17 Feb 6 '17 at 18:03

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