Academia SIG Reports from the British Ecological Society (BES) 2019 Annual Meeting

A vibrant and friendly Belfast hosted this year’s BES annual meeting (10-13 December). ‘Celebrating global ecology’ was the conference theme as reflected by its attendance of >1,200 delegates from >40 countries. The conference not only included strong and interesting oral presentation and poster sessions covering a range of topics, but also fantastic opportunities to explore and engage in workshops, SIG meetings, social events, and thematic sessions.

An ‘early careers’ one-day workshop for ecologists got the conference off to a great start with an inspiring plenary lecture by Professor Jane Memmot (University of Bristol), in which she promoted “academic resilience” and encouraged the audience to continue applying and adjusting their path along their career journey, but never altering from their goal.

The disconnect between academic research findings and the public was later highlighted in the plenary lecture by Esther Nagumbi (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Communicating our research findings beyond scientific journals to build bridges with other stakeholders is a topic which resonates with our own CIEEM Academia Special Interest Group (ASIG). Esther shared avenues for communicating research with an emphasis on science-related opinion pieces.

Dr Esther Nagumbi, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, discussing science communication (Sharne McMillan)

Social events provided networking and sharing opportunities and included activities such as breakfast with the Teaching and Learning SIG, and a Meet the Associate Editors discussion on peer reviewing. Also of relevance to our ASIG, was an interactive, lunchtime workshop for educators which considered ways to develop and enhance field-based teaching practice with a focus on developing graduate skills and achieving employers’ requirements.

BES2019 had something for everyone! And it wasn’t all just work; after the conference dinner, hundreds of ecologists kicked up their heels with some lively ceilidh dancing in the impressive Titanic building. Who knew ecologists were such great dancers?!

Next year’s meeting will be held in Edinburgh. As our own ASIG establishes and builds in momentum over 2020, the next BES could provide an opportunity for our members to connect and potentially share what we’ve achieved during the year. We hope to see you there!