My last post was quite a while ago now so I thought it was about time to catch up on what I’ve been up to. The last few months have been a little busy, with lots of things going on with different deadlines and to do lists!
Something that I really enjoyed doing towards the end of the summer was to do a bit of public engagement at some local seafood festivals. I’ve always been a bit nervous doing this kind of thing – the imposter syndrome was holding me back and what happened if someone asked me something I didn’t know the answer to?! However, the prospect of being able to go to a variety of fish festivals in Cornwall and Devon was too tempting and so I decided to put myself outside of my comfort zone and go for it! I’m so glad I did as I had a great time! It was pretty tiring, but it was also so fun to talk to different people and engage them in our work. And it turned out I did know a bit more than I thought I did…
The first place we went was to Newlyn fish festival, where myself and my colleague Nigel Sainsbury and supervisor Rachel Turner had a stall about ‘Fisheries in the Future’. We had two main activities, namely a wave tank borrowed from the engineering department which we used to demonstrate changing storminess and the effect that could have on fishing, and a ‘hook the fish’ game to entice people to come over so we could chat about climate change and its impacts. We also had a board for people to put post-it notes on about what they thought were big issues for fisheries in the future. This resulted in quite a few different responses, a common one being plastic and wider pollution, but also some issues regarding wider management and sustainability.
I then took the stall to Brixham’s FishStock, minus the wave machine, and did the same thing there. Both events were really well attended and I had a lot of fun talking to people. It was nice to see people interested in our work and I enjoyed spreading the word! I would encourage any researchers to do this sort of thing if they can as I found it really rewarding and was a good way to break out of the academic bubble for a little while. I also definitely recommend going to those fish festivals – they were fantastic and had lots of yummy, local seafood!
Between organising those events and doing my normal PhD research, I was also busy preparing for the ICES Annual Science Conference in September where I had been accepted to give a talk. Ek! It was one of my PhD goals when I first started to eventually do a talk at this conference so I was both really excited and also pretty nervous! It was touch a go for a little while as to whether we would all end up going there as the hurricane season got a little crazy and the conference was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. However, we got the go ahead and before I knew it I was on a plane headed for Miami!
After a day to catch up on jet lag and chill out on the beach, the conference got into full swing and it was time for some science. My talk wasn’t until the last day in the last session, which was a bit annoying but at least allowed me the rest of the conference to relax into and figure out. It was my first time going to an ICES conference, so I was a little unsure what to expect. However, it turned out to be way better than I thought – there were lots of interesting sessions, it was super friendly and there was plenty of time put aside for discussions either in the breaks or in their ‘open sessions’. I haven’t been to a conference with open sessions before but I really liked them – they were an opportunity to focus down on a topic and talk to others about it in a relaxed environment. I think that was a really nice quality of the whole meeting – it was relaxed and friendly and you felt you could approach anyone if you had something that you wanted to ask them. Particularly useful for someone who hasn’t been to one of these conferences before! I also took part in the mentor scheme whilst I was there which was a great way to meet other scientists, early career or otherwise, and also find out more about ICES or ask any other burning questions.
It finally then came to the last day of the conference and my talk! I was put in the session ‘Projected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, wild captured and cultured fisheries, and fishery dependent communities’. It was a really interesting session, starting out with a focus more on the biogeochemical changes associated with climate change in our seas, before moving towards projections on species and then ultimately on communities and society. I got a lot of ideas during the session for future work, and it was also helpful to hear about other projects happening around the world to address some of these issues. I gave my talk in the afternoon, and I think it went ok! I went a bit fast as I was nervous, but overall I enjoyed giving it and had some people come to talk to me at the end which was nice. It felt good to cross that off my ‘PhD bucket list’!
With the end of the conference came the beginning of my holiday, which I had been looking forward to for a long time – it was time to go to Central America! After putting on my ‘out of office’ email and saying goodbye to new and old friends with a drink (or three, four…) the next day I got up bright and early to fly to Guatemala. I travelled for around 3 weeks down to Costa Rica, and had the most amazing time. I even saw sloths!! Sloths! Sooooo cool!!!
So, after a month away from the desk it’s back to it. But not for long – I have until the end of the month here in Exeter before I move to London to start my placement with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. I am super excited (and also nervous!) to start and to move back to the big smoke for a while. Stay tuned for updates for me navigating the political world and finding the right room in Westminster palace…
Another beautiful day in Brixham!
Not a bad place for a conference!