Visions from nature

NTNU Museum Visits the 6th Annual ForBio Conference

By Sam Perrin

April saw the 6th ForBio Annual Meeting take place in Bergen. The conference is designed to bring together students and scientists from around the world to share research and knowledge on biosystematics. An excellent networking opportunity, the NTNU University Museum was represented by 3 of our PhD candidates, Vanessa Bieker, Narjes Yousefi and Malene Nygard. It was a great chance for the Museum to share some of its recent research and for our three members to gain valuable connections and experience.

ForBio is the Research School in Biosystematics, an initiative funded by the Norwegian Research Council and founded by the University Museums of Oslo, Trondheim, Trømso and Bergen. The initiative’s goal is to link research communities through the Nordic countries and globally, increase knowledge of Nordic species, and provide international training for biosystematists, all three of which Vanessa, Malene and Narcis were able to take full advantage of.

Vanessa explains her research to her fellow scientists (Photo: William Hatchett, Nord University)

Vanessa presented her poster on the first day of the conference. Vanessa is the Museum’s newest PhD candidate and presented results from her current research on parallel adaptations in invasive species. Being able to produce detailed enough results to present at a conference in three months is a fantastic accomplishment, especially considering that it was Vanessa’s first poster presentation in front of such an audience.

Malene (whose research can be explored in more detail here) started her PhD at the Museum earlier this year, and presented her recent research on red-listed Carex species, demonstrating modern sequencing techniques to a larger audience. Having already had some experience with public speaking, she decided to film herself as a tool for improvement, and found it a very helpful technique. Malene was also able to attend the 2 day pre-conference workshop in science communication, where she expanded her skills in planning, popular writing, media attention and social media.

Narjes gave her 15-minute presentation on the second day of the conference. Narjes is coming to the end of her PhD at the museum, and with her defense approaching in the second half of 2017, the conference was a great chance for her to link up with other experts in her field. Narjes has been working on genetic factors associated with peat mosses, which store roughly one-third of the world’s terrestrial carbon. Both Malene and Narjes had to present very focused scientific research to a broader scientific community, and both did so in a professional and succinct manner.

We’d also like to extend congratulations to Melissa Brandner (metagenomics of benthic marine communities) and William Hatchett (reinforcement in 2 brown algae species) of Nord University for winning Best Poster and Best Talk, respectively.

Narjes presents her work on carbon sequestration in Sphagnum (Photo credit: Vanessa Bieker, NTNU University Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0.)

All three Museum representatives found the conference a fun and informative experience. Malene felt that in particular she learned a lot about promoting her projects during the working experience, and adjusting her presentations for different target groups. Narjes learned a great deal about overcoming difficulties and challenges during projects, and even got to meet one of the scientists whose research she’d followed over the last few years, Lacey Knowles of the University of Michigan. Vanessa enjoyed the networking opportunity and is looking forward to meeting more professionals from her field of research.

Events like the ForBio Annual Meeting are important occasions, both for NTNU and for our new scientists. We’re all looking forward to hearing more about NTNU’s participation at more of these events.

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