Roundup of SEB Prague 2015!

Welcome to Bird Brained Science’s inaugural post!

A few weeks ago, I was in Prague attending the Society of Experimental Biology’s annual conference and had an absolutely fantastic time delving into the experimental research that is currently happening around the world. I’d like to share a few highlights now, but it’s really only the tip of the iceberg!

The Talks

I was lucky enough to be selected to present a talk on my work investigating the efficiency of avian flight muscle. The chance to present my research to other scientists at the top of their fields was incredibly rewarding and as soon as I was finished, I couldn’t wait to get started on preparing my next talk! As well as presenting in the biomechanics session, I was able to watch a great number of talks from the rest of the biomechanicists as well as talks in the ecophysiology and arthropod sessions. There were other concurrent sessions focused on neurobiology, cell biology, genetics, plant science and science education that I had to miss, but luckily all the sessions were constantly being livetweeted by a number of conference patrons who provided quick summaries of the presentations they were sat in. These were useful for both conference goers as well as the wider scientific community, and next year I aim to join them in spreading the knowledge!

As well as powerpoint presentations, there were also a horde of scientific posters flanked by scientists eager to share their work with passersby.These poster presentations were preceded by a type of session I’d never heard of before, a “pecha kucha” (pronounced peck-ah kook-ah), where poster presenters are given 1 minute to try and summarise their posters in order to entice attendees to come and discuss their poster. This session was very enjoyable as people really strived to make their minute memorable, and I’m glad that I got to talk to some fellow scientists about their posters – including one on bird flight, score!

For me, the chance to see so many different presentation styles really gave me a sense of how to effectively communicate science. If I learned one thing (in reality, I learned much more than that!) from the presentations at SEB, it’s that a good video can hook an audience like nothing else! We were treated to dozens of exciting slow-motion clips of praying mantises jumping (Dr Gregory Sutton), blowfly wings flapping (Jonathan Page), Pac-Man frog tongues grabbing prey (Dr Thomas Kleinteich) and suction predation strategies in fish (Dr Emily Kane)!

Image/Video by Professor Malcolm Burrows and Dr Gregory Sutton Accessed via: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/baby-mantises-harness-mid-air-spin-during-jumps-for-precision-landings
Image/Video by Professor Malcolm Burrows and Dr Gregory Sutton
Accessed via: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/baby-mantises-harness-mid-air-spin-during-jumps-for-precision-landings

…and the rest!

The whole event was wonderfully catered for, with mountains of local and foreign cuisine being served up every few hours and coffee on tap served as the lifeblood for the conference’s speakers.

But there wasn’t just food available… The social events such as the wine-trail on the first night of sessions and the conference dinner on the final night were both great opportunities to mingle and network with the other attendees from all over the globe.

All in all, I had a great time and I’m glad it’s inspired me to try and engage the wider community about the current state of bioscience research as well my own adventure through academia! Here’s to another fantastic year of science, and I can’t wait for SEB 2016 in Brighton! Cheers!!

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For more information on the talks at SEB or the conference itself, check out tweets with the hashtag #SEBAMM and the official SEB Twitter or check out this fantastic more in-depth conference review from There’s A Spider In The Bath!.


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