Visions from nature

NTNU University Museum at Ecology Across Borders 2017

By Sam Perrin

Last week, Anders Kolstad and I were lucky enough to attend the Ecology Across Borders conference in Ghent, Belgium. With 1500 ecologists having braved snow that grounded flights and stalled transport all over Western Europe, it was one of the largest Ecology conferences of 2017.

Organised by the British Ecological Society, Ecology Across Borders was my first conference. Whilst I’ve attended conferences before, courtesy of a part-time job at a European tech company, I’ve never been in the same room as so many like-minded individuals with a passion for all things ecological. The atmosphere was vibrant and exciting, and I loved every minute of it.

Giving a lightning talk at Ecology Across Borders
Giving a lightning talk on day 3 (Photo Credit: Olivia Bell, University of Exeter)

Anders and I were there representing the University Museum, and we presented information on the effects of increased herbivory on forest structure and the impacts of invasive species in the wake of climate change, respectively. Whilst we were the only representatives from the Museum, NTNU had a large contingent courtesy of the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics (CBD), which I also belong to.

Networking is a key aspect of any such event, and taking advantage of it can make the difference in what you get out of a conference. I was lucky enough to meet three or four members of the scientific community whose research has huge implications for my own project, and I look forward to working with them over the next few years.

I’ve listed some highlights from the conference below.

  • Kate Layton-Matthews and I were lucky enough to score an interview with Amy Austin, recipient of the UNESCO Women in Science Award for 2018. Amy’s insights into Women in Science were fascinating, and we’ll be publishing the interview soon.
  • The poster sessions were intense and rewarding. Being grilled about your subject for 2 hours by a series of people who are genuinely fascinated in your work is challenging, but a lot of fun. The fact that they keep the wine flowing helps though.
  • Speaking of wine, seeing hundreds of ecologists tearing up the dance floor (in a manner) on the Wednesday night after the conference dinner was a lot of fun, and a huge congratulations to the woman who tried to teach them a few traditional Belgian dances.
Kate Layton-Matthews and me with Assoc. Professor Amy Austin
Kate Layton-Matthews and me with Assoc. Professor Amy Austin (Photo Credit: Sam Perrin, NTNU University Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0.)

Thanks to the British Ecological Society, the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and the Dutch-Flemish Society for Ecology for organising the conference. I look forward to attending in 2018.

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