Ento ’13 (the International Symposium and National Science Meeting of the Royal Entomological Society) took place at St Andrews University, Scotland last week. It celebrated 30 years of Thornhill and Alcock’s The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems and contained several fascinating presentations from scientists around the globe, including Australia, Uppsala, Georgia and the UK. The afternoon talks (for the National Science Meeting) gave the opportunity for speakers ranging from PhD students to Professors to take the stage presenting their work in themed sessions (sexual selection, nuptial gifts, beneficial insects and a general session). Thursday night was the conference banquet and ceilidh. I’m not sure how many of the delegates had ever been to a ceilidh before, but a good amount gave it a go and there seemed to be smiles all round. I am happy to say I managed every dance, although I think that might be the most exercise I have managed so far this year! It was also a good opportunity to have a chat to those I had just met in a more informal manner.
New fellows signing the obligations book, adding their names to others including Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin.
Ento ’13 was my first time presenting a poster at any conference. I was very nervous about taking my poster along but in the end I ended up winning the second prize for a student poster, a huge surprise! I had gone back to my Masters project (research at Imperial College, London in 2011) as my PhD is not quite at the stage to do a poster. This looked at the one-off effect of ladybird larvae eating conspecific and heterospecific eggs. Young two-spot ladybird larvae fed harlequin eggs had very low survival rate (about 10%), but when harlequins were fed two-spot eggs (or their own), survival was much higher. I had some great advice on how to layout a poster from Francisca Sconce (@FranciscaSconce), a fellow masters student at Imperial College, now at Harper Adams University.
My poster at ento ’13.
Ento ’13 was also my first ‘tweet-along’ at any event. There was a small bunch of us who told the twitter world the goings on of the conference on an as-it-happened basis. With two sessions each afternoon run simultaneously, I found this useful to keep up with what was going on next door. It also allowed those as far away as Canada and Australia to follow along with what was happening in a small town in Scotland. Simon Leather (@entoprof) was one of the other tweeters at ento ’13 and gave a very interesting presentation about his introduction to twitter and how it has changed the way that science is being communicated. It allows you to connect with scientists (and others) globally to discuss ideas and make science, and entomology, more accessible to younger generations. I think that this is definitely a great medium to generate interest in any subject by easily letting people know whats going on, connecting people across the globe at all stages of their career and even sharing photos. Although there was a good sized group of younger people (masters and PhD students) at ento’13, there can never be too few young people being introduced to entomology and scientific research generally. Twitter not only connects young people to scientists, naturalists and other enthusiasts, it also connects people who want to come together to educate, run workshops etc to create events and generate enthusiasm for nature at a young age.