Best part of doing a PhD? Conferences! When you finally manage to do some meaningful research, it’s time to present it to a wider audience. In other words, pack your suitcases and bon voyage! I know that attending conferences might be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few tips to make the most of them.
- Find a good conference. If you’re as lucky as I am and have a great supervisor, she or he will suggest interesting events to you. Otherwise you’ll need to do the work yourself. However, at Imperial we’re flooded with e-mails advertising scientific events, there’s also Google and your colleagues who can give you some advice.
March arrives and it’s time for the annual Natural History Museum (NHM) Student Conference! I am on the student committee and so help with the organisation. There’s a lot to do organising a conference but we learnt from last year and with new members on the team it seemed a lot less stressful this year! Despite the stress and extra work being part of a committee and helping organising a conference is a great opportunity to learn useful skills and make contacts, so I highly recommend getting involved with one if you can.
Talks are compulsory for 3rd year PhD students like me so although I had spoken at the two previous years’ conferences (I need the practice :\ ) I was yet again up on stage. It was quite fun actually as last year I talked about developing my citizen science project Earthworm Watch which was just about to launch, now it has been running a year so I was able to give the first results from the project.
If a scientist does research and doesn’t tell anyone about it, have they done research at all?
Communicating results of our research to other scientists is essential, it allows others to critique it and make recommendations, build on our work and make decisions about how to manage issues based on the results.
Last week I was fortunate to attend the NERC Into the Blue public engagement event in Manchester with the British Ecological Society.
The two NERC Doctoral Training Programmes based in London – London NERC DTP and my own Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP held a joint conference for students on the 1st and 2nd September at King’s College London.
This week’s #throwbackthursday is from exactly two years ago and features the Biological Records Centre 50th anniversary symposium.
Last weekend I was at a symposium in Bath celebrating 50 years of the Biological Records Centre (BRC). The BRC collates and manages species observation data, including supporting biological recording schemes in publishing atlases, developing and hosting online resources. I have a long interest in biological recording, as a child spending most of my weekends and school holidays recording wildlife in a local woodland, but it was always on my own. It has not been until the last few years I have become interested in ‘formal’ biological recording by joining schemes and societies, much of this has been helped by the emergence of the internet in allowing me to make contact with like-minded people.
I was able to attend the Bristol Festival of Nature thanks to a grant from the British Ecological Society. I was fortunate to be the first beneficiary of the Regional Funding Scheme which provides support for researchers to undertake public engagement activities.
The Bristol Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest celebration of the natural world with two days of free interactive activities and entertainment across Bristol’s Harbourside. I had a stall in the Green Forum tent in Millenium Square and spent two days talking with the public about soil health and earthworms, with activities including handling and identifying live earthworms and a ‘count the number of earthworms in the wormery’ competition – with a prize for the winner.
Last year I blogged about my first visit to the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. This year I was back – promoting my new citizen science project Earthworm Watch, which I have developed with Earthwatch and the Natural History Museum. This time the Natural History Museum occupied a whole marquee and I attended on the Saturday and Sunday by myself, which was hard work!
I brought along some live earthworms for people to hold which was particularly popular with children. It was heartening to hear more people comment that they were “cute” rather than “yuk”. I gave out leaflets and took several sheets full of email addresses to follow up with more information on Earthworm Watch so I hope it will lead to more recruitment for the project.
On Sunday I presented my new citizen science project Earthworm Watch at two Nature Live events at the Natural History Museum.
Every year the Natural History Museum Student Association organises a conference held for Museum-based students to present their research. This year I am on the Student Association Committee so was involved in helping with the conference, and also presented a poster and a talk.
Organising a conference is hard work! There are sponsors to find, speakers to invite, programmes to produce, catering to arrange, and things you might not even consider such as booking porters for the tables and ensuring Museum security procedures are kept to. Organisation began before Christmas but the last few weeks leading up to the event were the busiest, and thankfully it all went well.