A fantastic opportunity to present my PhD research

In August 2019, I had the great opportunity to present my PhD research at the European Ornithologists’ Union conference (EOU2019) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This was only made possible with the generous support of a BOU member travel award, helping me with my travel from Australia!

After spending 3.5 years in Australia to conduct my PhD research on beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) in wild Australian parrots, it was fantastic to reconnect with European friends and colleagues and meet even more fellow bird people.

The EOU conference was one of the best I have ever been to. It was spread across two venues in the old town centre of Cluj-Napoca with attendees from all six continents. All the plenaries were very interesting; I especially enjoyed Petra Quillfeldt’s talk about her fieldwork on petrels in remote Antarctic regions, and Stuart Bearhop’s plenary about social decision making in avian migration. The conference talks and posters covered a very wide variety of topics; it was a pity that I could not be at all five concurrent sessions at once!

On the second evening, we had an “EOU fledglings” event, with the purpose of connecting early career researchers with their peers and with more senior researchers. It started with a very useful panel discussion, where we could ask the panel of five ornithologists questions which included diverse queries, for example on how to apply for grants and how to combine a career in academia with a private life. We then went out for dinner together and had a very good discussion.

Probably some of the best conversations I had were during the excursion. We went to the beautiful Băişoara Mountains, which are covered with a dark, dense, beautiful forest, which was a relief in the hot summer weather. In the evening, we recovered from the hike during a very well organised, relaxed conference dinner, which again gave plenty of opportunities to network with colleagues.

Johanne presenting her research ‘Parrots in peril – investigating beak and feather disease virus in wild Australian psittacines’ © Katja Rahn

On the last day of the conference, I finally had the opportunity to present my almost completed PhD research on BFDV in wild parrots with a talk in the Parasites and Disease session. It was a great experience, as a lot of interested colleagues came to my talk and asked questions afterwards. I was very happy and grateful to be able to spread the word about this globally distributed pathogen to the audience in Europe.

I left Romania with new enthusiasm, ideas and friends, and eager to get back to my research. Thanks BOU for making this great experience possible!