Gaining perspectives at the IOCongress
University of Glasgow, UK
I love attending conferences. Thanks to support from the BOU, I was able to attend this year’s International Ornithological Congress (IOCongress2018). A lively meeting of over 1,500 bird researchers from across the globe, IOCongress2018 boasted a diverse scientific programme of ornithological research and SciArt combined. For me, going to an international conference such as the IOCongress2018 was inspiring, as you realise that you’re far from being the only one out there doing the research hustle!
At the congress I presented part of my PhD research in a talk entitled “Malaria parasite effects on the circadian physiology of wild birds”. Here, I explained my “wild clocks” study of biological rhythms of great tits at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (@sceneUofG), and the potential effects that malaria parasites have on avian host rhythms. I thoroughly enjoyed my time presenting, and I’m itching to do so again once I have all the data together for the resulting publication from my project.
The early stages of a career in research can be difficult, and I believe there is great value in bringing masters students, PhDs and postdocs together to network and support each other. I am part of the European Ornithologists’ Union Fledgelings’ (@eounion) group for early career researchers (ECRs), which aims to do just that. Before the congress, I reached out to the equivalent ECR group of the American Ornithological Society (@AmOrnith) and together we organised a panel session for ECRs to be held at the congress, called “Early Professionals Futures Forum” (#IOCFuturesForum). It was a great success – the event was very well attended (around 125 ECRs) and many attendees also came along for the social pub session afterwards. From our panel of professionals, we received some very useful advice for navigating a career in ornithology – from how to write a successful cover letter, to finding a permanent research post. This was very useful to me as I am nearing the end of my PhD, so will soon be on the hunt for my next position!
If I could change one thing about IOCongress2018, it would have been to include more social events in the schedule. If I hadn’t volunteered at the BOU-run #IOCSocialMediaHub, I would not have made connections with half as many people as I did! However, I did enjoy going to my first #TweetUp where I met many people I recognised from Twitter, and also getting to reconnect with friends from previous ornithology conferences.
I left IOCongress2018 feeling inspired and having gained new perspectives on both my project and my career as an ornithologist. I also made a bunch of new ECR friends, whom I will stay in contact with and hopefully see at future conferences.
About the author
Robyn Womack is a final year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. She investigates biological rhythms in wild great tits and the effects of light pollution and avian malaria at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment.
Check out Robyn’s blog Curious Clocks
Follow Robyn on Twitter @RobynJWomack
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