A look back at the fellowship.

UFS 13/14 at the careers conference

UFS 13/14 at the careers conference

So February 10th, the date of the BES undergraduate careers conference, came and went. The conference was well attended and went pretty well, even if I do say it myself! The plan was to try and have speakers that the delegates could relate to, or who were in positions that the delegates could aspire to. I think that we achieved this in the main and we added in a couple of “big hitters” just for good measure.

Prof Bill Sutherland did the morning plenary slot for us and was as inspirational as ever! Telling the audience that although times may be hard there will always be a need for new blood in ecology and that those who are able sell themselves well will find a place. Prof Dave Raffaelli from York was next and talked about the science / policy interface and also had a few specific tips for the mature students in the audience. Robin Bisson from the science media centre was next followed by Jonathan Green from Liverpool who talked about academic careers; Jonathan had some particularly interesting points to make on the work /life balance.

networking 2 NetworkingUndergraduate conference delegates and UFS members network over coffee.

Coffee was followed by talks on the voluntary sector and ecological consultancy and the morning wrapped up with a panel session featuring the morning speakers. The afternoon session kicked off with a plenary offering from Julia Clause from the University of Rouen and INNGE. Julia was very charming and enthralled the audience while telling them how reflection is her major strategy when it comes to managing her “modern ecological career”. Julia was followed by Ross Mounce from Bath who spoke about using social media to manage an ecological career and raise your profile. This was the second time I had seen this particular offering from Ross but he is always good value and there is always something to gain from his talks.

A round of short talks from Sarah Blackford (can you have a Life Sci careers event without Sarah’s name coming up?), Dominic Andradi Brown, Myself and Julia (who spoke about INNGE this time) was followed by fun networking session and a final panel session. Then it was time to wind down with afternoon speakers making themselves available for an informal chat over a glass of wine.

I would like to personally thank Katherine Maltby for all of the help and support that she gave us. I also want to thank the other Fellows for the effort that went into the conference. Inevitably some of our number were away on research trips or had gained jobs and were keeping the wolf from the door, whilst poor Katie was having a knee op! and so not everyone made it to the event, but they still helped massively with the planning and tweeted their support from various locations on the day.

UFS 13/14 at INTECOL

UFS 13/14 at INTECOL

The careers conference is the final event in the fellowship calendar and we are left to look back on a pretty cool year while Karen and Katherine appoint the lucky undergraduates who will replace us. The fellowship is not about being spoon fed with opportunities but does give you a pretty good insight into the world of the BES. It lets you meet some fairly senior people you might otherwise find it difficult to meet, gives you experience of how the Society operates but most of all introduces you to a bunch of other like-minded individuals (including the fellowship alumni) with whom to go on a journey. Would I do it again?  YOU BET!

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Making sense of all that science or maybe not?

With INTECOL firmly behind me (phew) and my research project stretching out in front of me I found myself sitting at my desk today wondering what my next blog post should contain.

I was thinking that perhaps I should revisit some of the notes that I took at conference and write a second INTECOL post when a blog about taking the most from conferences arrived in my inbox. Now, while this advice may be a bit late for me this year, it did make me think. The main plank of the advice proffered seems to be that the social aspect of conference (networking and team building rather than just drinking for its own sake!) is by far the most important. It is true enough that anyone wishing to get more detail on the science presented at a conference need only Google the author and get a PDF from the horses mouth.So perhaps my time was well spent on those late nights after all!

As a junior scientist at the end of my first conference season it is not really the detailed science which is vexing me, I have an altogether bigger problem! I started the summer with interests in a couple of different areas and hoping that I would narrow this down and find a subject to specialise in but I have been exposed to so many interesting people that I now have broader interests! Just how do you choose, or perhaps you wait to be chosen!

Finally my kids went through the stuff I bought back from London and Henry (age 8) saw the INNGE badge and asked what it stood for. When I told him he said “did you bring that for me because I am the next generation of ecologists?”  “Of course” I replied. He is already working on his French for 2017!

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