Entomology & Insect Science
2016 International Congress of Entomology
With around 7000 attendees and 6 consecutive days full of talks, the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) was the largest conference I have yet attended. The conference was vibrant, packed with interesting people and symposia, which have definitely broadened my perspective. I attended as many talks as I could, which, although mentally exhausting, was incredibly fun. I have taken detailed notes and have attended seminars not just for the great speakers and new directions to the field, but also to scope out methodologies that I might be able to use for my own research and to network with like-minded individuals. I mostly attended talks related to pollination biology, but I was also able to attend a number of talks related to ‘omics, which will be of great benefit as I begin a postdoctoral fellowship on the floral microbiome next semester. I particularly enjoyed sitting in on solitary bee talks – a topic that deserves much more attention than it has historically received.
Throughout the conference I had the opportunity to talk to many professors, graduate students, and postdocs in diverse research areas (e.g., the evolution of division of labor, behavioral syndromes, pollination biology of solitary bees, pollinator-microbe interactions), from diverse institutions. As most of the conferences I have attended have been considerably smaller, I was especially impressed that I could meet with a completely different group of scientists each day. I’m optimistic that these connections will be of great benefit as I build my own research program and seek out collaborators. In particular, it was fantastic to be able to meet up with faculty from other universities, whom I am actively pursuing collaborations with. Likewise, it was great to attend talks and speak with colleagues who would normally only participate in a single conference each year and/or who might separate themselves amongst several different conferences. ICE was therefore a great way to introduce colleagues to each other, especially fellow graduate students searching for positions.
I gave a talk on our work on the very first day, with a packed room. Although I did not receive many questions, I received a surprising amount of praise afterward. It seems like our work was a hit. It was especially inspiring to interact with fellow graduate students and postdocs and hear their ideas for future directions on our research and how they enjoyed the material that had been presented. In combination with our work being recently highlighted in the New York Times and on NPR, I think that our research is getting some high visibility. I am hopeful this will translate not only into more research and more collaboration in this area generally, but also more attention being drawn to the excellent Entomology and Insect Science GIDP research program.