Please note that this event occurred prior to the current public health crisis. We recognize and are also disappointed by the fact that many conferences have been cancelled or postponed for this year. However, we look forward to hearing about your many travel experiences in the future!
By Madi Gamble, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient
This January, I attended the American Society of Naturalists Meeting at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Monterey, California. This is a small meeting (about 200 people) that is held every two years and is open to scientists at every level of academic or professional careers. It brings together people who study ecology and evolution at every biological scale to think critically about how processes at each scale shape trends and patterns in the natural world. The small size of the conference and the breadth of fields allows for great conversation, and multiple successful working groups and new collaborations have emerged from past meetings.
One aspect of the success of this meeting is that the Society has a code of conduct for the meeting and also designates point persons that can be notified of code of conduct violations. This made the meeting feel welcoming and safe.
The keynote address was delivered by Anurag Agrawal, who talked about interactions between milkweed plants and their insect predators. He addressed broad questions such as “is evolution predictable?” and “how important is contingency in evolution?”
I presented the first chapter of my dissertation, titled “Restricted heritability of a key life history trait between sexes and tactics mitigates conflict”. The talk was about how length at maturity, an important trait related to fitness that is sexually and tactically dimorphic in salmon, is only heritable between mothers and daughters and between large morph dads and large morph sons. The conference gave me an excellent opportunity to get feedback on my ideas and results, and the order in which I present them, before submitting them to a journal for publication.
Following my presentation I was able to talk to a prospective post doc mentor, and we discussed fellowships and grants that might support me as a post doc in her lab. We also discussed project ideas and possibilities for collaboration with other scientists and institutions.