by Haneen Alsehli, Shrinidhi Madhusudan, Marie-Christin Leitner and Katherina Tavernini
For most of us, this was the first in-person conference since starting our PhDs, or since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. All of us were very excited to get inspired, network and talk about our work by presenting our projects, either with a poster or giving a selected talk.
First day, first lunch and we had already met new people, we started chatting and had a good time. Despite being at different stages of our PhDs, we shared the same thoughts and fun stories – we laughed a lot! From that moment on, we had a great conference group, where the friendships will last beyond the meeting.
This conference was located in a beautiful setting just a one hour train ride south of London. At Wotton House,we could explore the beautiful natural surroundings during breaks, but also study, work and listen to talks in a historic setting. Overall, we were exceptionally well taken care of during this meeting.
During the talks and poster sessions, we had the chance to listen to outstanding talks from experts in the field. We all appreciated the amount of unpublished data, and for Haneen, who is writing up at the moment, this kind of literature review was very useful. For others, hearing about new methods in talks that were outside our areas of expertise were beneficial, as we began to think about translating them to our own work.Furthermore, the industry sponsors at the event were also very accommodating and we look forward to taking their expertise and methodology back to our institutes.
Since we were all presenting our work, we all experienced the great atmosphere of this meeting. We had fruitful discussions at our posters that not only allowed us to gather ideas for future experiments, but to get feedback on our work from an international audience. We discussed our work with group leaders, representatives from industry, postdocs and of course, fellow students, which we appreciated and found very rewarding.
This meeting was highly interactive and we all acknowledge the effort that was made to foster interactions among the participants. The ‘speed-networking’ event forced some of us outside of our comfort zones, to interact with PIs and senior scientists. Each dinner, we were randomly assigned to tables and had a dedicated seat. Although being apprehensive initially about the place cards, we soon came to appreciate it, especially after having interesting conversations with participants that we might not have otherwise met. With this setting, we had the opportunity to talk to different group leaders, students, editors; to discuss science, ask questions and spin ideas about future developments.
We all really appreciated the effort the organisers took to make this conference as safe as possible. We felt that Covid measures were taken seriously, which allowed for great and almost carefree networking.
If you ever have the chance to participate in this conference, go for it! You will hear about the latest amazing research, make new friends, interact and network with experts in the field from all over the world. We would definitely recommend attending and meeting great people and potential future collaborators along the way.