In November/December of last year I was told by my supervisor about a conference that was all about environmental DNA (eDNA), and that I should consider making a poster to present at said conference. Soon after, I discovered that the conference was being held in the Natural History Museum in London, and I knew I definitely had to go.

I worked on the poster for a number of weeks, and had advice from many different people (staff and students) on what makes a good poster, what to include and not to include. Eventually, I was able to get it printed out and into a holder in order to take it safely to London from Belfast.

The UKDNA working group conference was held from 27th-28th January 2020. Most of the content consists of current eDNA work, with researchers from all over the UK coming to present their research. The 2 days were split into 5 broad themes – citizen science, methods, terrestrial, freshwater and marine, as well as a session given by the stakeholders. These sessions were broken up by many coffee breaks, which allowed people to caffeinate, make connections and have really interesting conversations about the current research involving eDNA.

The talks themselves were also really interesting – as well as being able to finally put a face to a name after reading so many papers, for example I learnt that there are some researchers attempting to sample eDNA from air, as well as what methods are (currently) generally accepted by the majority of researchers.

It was slightly daunting, to attend a conference and present a poster for the first time, but luckily a fellow QUADRAT student was in the same boat– Auriel (UoA). Honestly, knowing at least one person made it a lot easier, but perhaps equally as important – it also meant I had company when I wanted to see some of the exhibitions at lunchtime!

On the whole, I really enjoyed the entire experience of attending the UKDNA working group conference, and looking forward to attending again next year, hopefully with more of my own research and results!