In April 2022, I was extremely fortunate to be awarded funds from the Charles Sutherland Scholarship fund which allowed me to attend the 27th European Meeting for PhD students in Evolutionary Biology (EMPSEB) conference in Espoo, Finland. As I started my PhD studentship during the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020, I had been unable to attend any in-person conferences and was yet to meet/discuss my research with PhD students out with the University of Aberdeen. EMPSEB is one of the few conferences organised and attended by PhD students and offers a friendly and supportive environment, a great opportunity for my first in-person conference.

During the conference I was able to give my first oral presentation about my research and a poster presentation. In my talk, I presented some preliminary results from my comparative genomics research into lifestyle adaptations in parasitic and predatory mites. This was part of my QUADRAT research project titled “Harnessing comparative and functional genomics to explore adaptive potential in predatory mites” where I am focussing on the predatory mite Stratiolaelaps scimitus which has been shown to be an effective biological control agent in the gardening process to treat several pests. I was able to receive feedback from a supportive international audience and even from the world-class plenary speakers that attended the conference. With this experience, I was able to discuss my work and even generate some new ideas for future research.

The workshops at the conference also gave me some invaluable lessons about data visualisation, graphical representation of research and even information about future career opportunities that I hadn’t previously considered. I had such a great time that I’ve joined the committee to host the 28th EMPSEB in Scotland in 2023!

Overall, this was a fantastic opportunity to discuss my research and learn about the variety of research in the field of evolutionary biology with fellow enthusiastic PhD students all at the same career stage. I’m very grateful to have had this opportunity thanks to the Charles Sutherland scholarship fund.

Original post to UOA SBS blog:

Photos provided by Rosalin Simpson