You may remember a few weeks ago I posted about my first week of my placement in Dr Hammond’s lab at uni. My funding for the project came from the Genetics Society and in return for this all project students funded by them this year presented their work at a conference in Edinburgh. The conference was from 27th August to the 30th August 2018.
I travelled up to Edinburgh very early on Monday (yes I know it was the bank holiday and you were probably having a lie in) and arrived at the conference for lunch.
The format of the conference was that each day different project students would give a short talk about their project, along with this we had some lectures from the academics and PhD student hosting the conference. These were really interesting and it was a really great to hear from several leading scientists with very different experiences. One of the talks was given by Dr Kat Arney, who spoke about her change of direction from research into science communication and journalism, Prof. Alison Woollard spoke about their journey to PI (primary investigator – having their own lab) and how personal life can shape the decisions you make on this path. I do have to highlight Helena Wells’ talk, she is the PhD representative for the society. She spoke very openly about the highs and lows of a PhD, not only from her point of view but also those of her friends who had had very different experiences. I found her talk particularly useful as she was much closer to my current stage in my career and I was also very impressed by her inclusion of a mention of the potential effects on mental health of a PhD, I think it’s an area people often gloss over and it’s so important we keep this discussion open!
What about the student talks? I was blown away by the quality of the projects and the presentations (including the Q&A after) by everyone at the workshop. I personally was pleased with mine and I had quite a few people come and ask me about my project after it. I also think I learnt a lot about what makes a good presentation and what makes a great presentation from watching others. Doing the presentation made me really proud of how far I have come in the last few years, I would have dreaded this back in school but I really enjoyed the experience.
We also had a team debate session, in which each team was given one of four statements and were told to argue for or against it. This, as you can imagine, was an interesting and at times fiery session, but it was a good exercise which made us think about the issues within science and how this fits into the wider world.
For me the biggest highlight of this conference was meeting the other students from all over the world! I’m sure you’ve gathered by now I love socialising and the chance to get to know 27 strangers over a few days is great. It’s also good practise for networking, but above that they were a lovely group of people all at the same stage of their career as me. It was also really nice to have the chance to see some of Edinburgh, it is a very beautiful and interesting city.
Overall the trip was great and all the expenses of the travel and accommodation (not to mention some amazing food) were covered by the society.
I can’t stress enough what an invaluable experience this summer has been for me and I would just like to thank the Genetics Society (especially the academics and (Helena Wells) that were at the conference) and Dr Hammond for this opportunity. Now I can’t wait to get back into the lab to finish my project.