BOU2017 crowded foyer for blogSee also:
#BOU2017 in tweets – a great Storify by Virat Jolli

Why attending the BOU Annual Conference is always a good idea

“From avian tracking to population processes” was the theme of this year’s BOU Annual Conference, which took place at the University of Warwick from 28 to 30 March. I had never attended a BOU conference before, and was curious what it would bring. The internationality and diversity of the research presented came as a positive surprise. In many oral and poster presentations, I learnt about bird species in nearly all continents and oceans, and the possibilities avian tracking holds for answering ecological questions.

BOU2017 entrance
Just as it seems that many questions can be answered with tracking technology, many studies also revealed challenges and raised new questions for ornithological research. Those could be best discussed during the long breaks between the sessions. Coffee, lunch and teatime could also be used to visit posters and stands in the hall and two adjacent rooms. The ornithological community is known for being open and friendly, which made it easy to get to know other attendees.

BOU2017 Norris lecture
Pat Monaghan and Jenny Gill, who were presented the Godman Salvin Prize and the Union Medal, respectively, built on this sense of community, and went beyond pure science in their acceptance speeches. Pat Monaghan encouraged to keep up the internationality of ornithological research in the challenging times of ‘Brexit’, with special regard to the protection of nature conservation areas. Jenny Gill underlined the importance of and responsibility for independent scientific research, its communication to the public and the preservation of scientific results in the ‘post-fact age’.

GSP Monaghan 2017Union Gill 2017

I had heard that the BOU Annual Conference is attractive for Early-Career Researchers for more than the pricing, the opportunity to present projects and meeting other researchers. Interested ECRs could attend a workshop, which took place on Tuesday afternoon before the official welcome. In three sessions, we could learn tools to promote ourselves and our science. The event was well-announced in advance and all participants had the chance to bring in wishes and expectations prior to the conference.

During the workshop, Cat Horswill and David Douglas gave useful tips for networking, which we could try out over the course of the conference. Francis Daunt talked about what makes a good oral presentation. Apart from more general information regarding structure, content and preparation, he also shared his personal experiences with us. Nina O’Hanlon and Steve Dudley gave an overview of social media and their impact, and how we could use them to gain more attention for our research including altmetrics. In all sessions, there was room for discussion and questions.

Borrmann fig 2

Another great opportunity was the second ECR event on Wednesday evening: speed networking with senior scientists. They took turns to answer questions to small groups of ECRs, and shared their experiences regarding scientific careers. We enjoyed interesting conversations, and found that five minutes per slot were just not enough…

Overall, I had a very good time at #BOU2017. I enjoyed the great diversity of the scientific studies presented, and the possibility of meeting people and exchanging ideas. I could take much inspiration for my work, and I look forward to attending another BOU Annual Conference in the future. I hope to see you there!



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