NRN-LCEE Cluster Fellows and Students present at international conferences

Recently, some of our researchers were awarded bursaries to present their work at international conferences. Below is a brief summary of their experiences. 

In April, Sara Rassner and André Soares (Fellow and PhD student at Aberystwyth University as part of the Geo-Carb-Cymru Cluster) joined over 1400 scientists in Birmingham to attend the annual conference of the Microbiology Society and presented posters on their study of the subsurface bacterial communities of the South Wales coalfield. Amongst the 27 different symposia, workshops and forums, new fields such as Synthetic Biology were approached for the first time and interesting viral genomics workshops were also available.

Sara with her poster at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference in BirminghamSara with her poster at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference in BirminghamSara recounts: “Because at this conference posters are up for the duration of the conference (as opposed to for one session only), we had more opportunity to have a look at other posters of interest as well, in addition to discussing our own research. We both made new contacts that we will be following up in the coming months. Unlike last year’s annual conference, there was no dedicated session for geomicrobiology this year. However, this meant that I ended up going to a much wider range of talks, many of which were of direct interest to the research we do in Geo-Carb-Cymru. The importance of microbes and microbial processes in maintaining a functioning ecosystem, in mitigating the effects of climate change and in producing low carbon energy was highlighted again and again in different talks.”

André recounts: “This conference proved very helpful for me to connect with my field's research community, become familiar with the latest research and expose my work. Each day the conference started and finished with an inspirational keynote, award or hot topic lecture. This was a great way of learning about some really exciting science and also provided advice and encouragement for us early-career scientists. Notably, Prof. Jill Banfield (University of Berkeley, California) shared her laboratory's latest findings on genome-centred metagenomics of little-known bacterial and archaeal phyla. It was very exciting to be in the audience for this talk since Prof. Banfield's work has been inspiring during my PhD. I have also discovered evidence for the presence of some of the microbes she researches in the south Wales coalfield, making this a very good opportunity to think of their function in this ecosystem.”              


Andreas Soteriades, Fellow at Bangor University as part of the Cleaner Cows Cluster, presented at the annual conference of The British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) in April. At the conference, researchers, farm managers and advisors and industry representatives present and discuss the latest advances in livestock research and technology. Andreas recounts:

“‘This year’s event was dedicated to innovation and competition in the global livestock industry. Several sessions on increasing the productivity and sustainability of pasture-based milk production in Ireland were especially valuable for Cleaner Cows’ scenario modelling studies to find ways of increasing the sustainability of pasture-based milk production in the UK. There were numerous specialized sessions, of which Precision Agriculture and Industry Showcase were particularly interesting. The Precision Agriculture session was largely dedicated to the application of machine learning techniques for improving livestock farming. The Industry Showcase demonstrated some of the latest innovations in commercial agriculture, such as creating a database of standardized, validated and formatted data for vets.”

I presented in the session on Sustainability, Globalisation and Climate. My talk was about an innovative mathematical method for benchmarking the efficiency and sustainability of dairy farms, which can improve the current approaches and increase the competitiveness of the dairy sector in UK and global markets.”


Also in April, Chloe Robinson, PhD student at Swansea University as part of the AquaWales Cluster, presented both a talk and a poster at the British Ecological Society (BES) Ecological Genetics Group (EGG) 62nd Annual Meeting in London. She recounts:

Chloe presenting at the BES Ecological Genetics Group meetingChloe presenting at the BES Ecological Genetics Group meeting“What I found especially remarkable at this meeting were the brilliant examples of research impact amongst all of the presentations. Secondly, the diversity of topics covered was vast and included topics such as diversity of Salmonella in pig farms, patterns of clonality in small-leaved lime, and environmental DNA (eDNA) assessment of fish communities in fragmented rivers. The numerous talks concerning population genetics of different species gave rise to engaging discussions regarding software and interpretations of key data, which I found very useful as I am currently revising a paper for a population genetics chapter of my thesis.

I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my work and the very productive discussions afterwards. My research received positive feedback and I was surprised to win the best student talk for the meeting (thanks BES EGG!). In addition to the inspiring talks, the student poster session was a fantastic opportunity to network. I found this session particularly informative and managed to form some new connections and discuss my work and methods with senior academics – both a terrific and terrifying experience.

Conference perks, including a behind the scenes tour of the Natural History Museum, made this meeting extra special. It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and passion of museum staff as they presented us with some exhibits. As someone who loves outreach, speaking with these engaging people gave me a boost and has both motivated and inspired me to continue designing effective outreach strategies for my research.”





Publication date: 3 July 2018