Angela Recalde-Salas has just returned from Australia’s first ever Student Conference on Conservation Science, held in Brisbane by the Environmental Decisions Group (EDG) at the University of Queensland. She has spent the last two weeks meeting with researchers from around the world, which has offered a unique opportunity to learn about their work and also the chance to improve her own research and conservation skills.
Over 120 students attended the conference, each show-casing their research by presenting a talk or poster session. The first three days were dedicated entirely to talks, started off each morning by a plenary speech from a distinguished figure in conservation science: Dr James Watson (Wildlife Conservation Society), Dr David Bickford (National University of Singapore), and Dr Michelle Pinard (University of Aberdeen). The talks then continued with a showcase of work by a variety of the young researchers in attendance. Some of the topics from these included analysis on carbon stocks, human-wildlife interactions, ecological modeling and conservation, spatial planning, ecosystem services, and community engagement.
Posters were on display over the course of these first three days, with presentations running every day. SouWEST presented a poster and this required Angela to stand by her presentation, ready to explain the work or answer any questions from the attendees. This gave her an excellent opportunity to discuss the use of passive acoustics to monitor cetacean species, and the implications of noisy environments for Environmental Impact Assessments, with fellow conservation scientists from a variety of backgrounds and fields of expertise. A wonderful shout-out for both SouWEST and the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) at Curtin University!
The second week of the conference was dedicated to workshops. Workshops on a variety of topics were offered including Statistics, Media Skills, Community Engagement, Conservation Planning, Grant Applications and Geographic Information Systems. Although all the options were very interesting and important, time-management and timetabling restricted our participation to 3 subjects: Statistics, Conservation Planning and Grant Applications.
But it wasn’t all work! The SCCS organisers also provided attendees with an exciting social schedule! From BBQs to Speed Networking, Trivia Nights to Field Trips – students were given a range of activities to encourage socialising, relaxation and the chance to act a bit silly. The perfect path to successful networking! Angela and Xyomara Carretero Pinzón (one of our 2013 SouWEST volunteers) were on the winning team of the trivia night! Colombian bird knowledge helped in the success!
All in all, the conference was a fantastic success and we would like to thank to the organisers, students, volunteers and sponsors for such an amazing time and experience! Angela has done us proud in promoting the work of SouWEST and the value of acoustic research with applications to conservation science. The conference will be held again in 2014, and it is an amazing opportunity for students interested in conservation science. We can’t wait to go again next year!