The BOU supported 12 early career ornithologists’ attendance at #IOCongress2018 in Vancouver. Here’s one of their accounts highlighting the take home messages from a truly international conference.

Participating at IOCongress2018 was the culmination of my Masters thesis work

This past August 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the International Ornithological Congress (IOCongress2018) in the amazing city of Vancouver, Canada, supported by a BOU ECR member travel award.

After two years of graduate research, I had just completed my Master of Science on the conservation genomics of the ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis). Therefore, being able to attend and present my work at IOCongress2018 in my home country really felt like the culmination of my graduate career. It was truly an enriching experience to be able to present my research to the worldwide ornithological community. I was lucky enough to present during both an e-poster session and a speed talk. Both sessions were challenging because of their short duration but it was extremely rewarding to be able to create a short comprehensive talk for all audience about my thesis.

Geneviève at her e-poster station

The newly implemented e-poster session was a great way to meet people interested in my research and exchange thoughts as people were cruising between the different e-poster stations and nearby traditional posters. I really enjoyed the e-poster format as I was able to swipe back and forth through my presentation to answer people’s questions in detail. One of the most rewarding moment of my IOCongress2018 experience was when a fellow graduate student came up to me during this session to seek advices on how to analyze conservation genomics data for her own project. I felt like I was able to share my knowledge and made a significant difference in the future of conservation genomics for birds.

I was also able to reach out to a different audience during my speed talk. The audience there were already knowledgeable about my research and we were able to share and exchange to a more specific level. This is something I really appreciated about IOCongress2018 compared to other conferences where topics are not specific to ornithology. It was gratifying to see how many people knew about my critically endangered research species and how much they cared for their conservation.

Geneviève presenting her speed talk

I attended multiple symposia and keynote speakers’ talks, which fueled my interdisciplinary discussions with other attendees. I liked to listen to others’ questions and opinions after each talk and gather a better understanding of ornithology around the world. My favorite symposium was certainly the one given by Dr Rob Fletcher (Smithsonian Institute) as he is one of my coauthors. It was a privilege to listen to his talk that resonated strongly with my research. Therefore, one of my main congress highlights was to be able to meet and connect in person with Dr. Fleischer on our shared ‘Alalā.

After one full week at IOCongress2018, I left Vancouver with my head full of new ideas and richer in contacts and new friends. I look forward to going back to research now and meeting up soon again with the amazing international ornithological community!

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