The World Seabird Conference from an early career scientist’ eyes

From the 26th to the 30th of October 2015, I had the chance to attend the Second World Seabird Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. 600 specialists gathered for the second time from around the world to discuss the newest advances in seabird research. It was a total success! The ambiance was relax and funny and there was a lot of constructive interaction between teams from different labs and countries. The representation of early-career researchers was excellent with around half of the conference being less than 30 years old. Some PhD students even gave their supervisor’s talk when they could not make it to the conference, which I though was exemplary! Also there was a very big number of women. This shows that our field is not too bad about gender equality even if the most known seabird ecologists still remain to be men. But maybe not for long as it was amusing to notice that most of the student awards were offered to women. Some attendees even came as a family.

From my own point of view it was very interesting to compare with the last experience I had at the first world seabird conference in Victoria, Canada in September 2009. At that time I was “just” a first year PhD student terrified about giving one of my first international talks in a different language than my mother tongue and in front of hundreds of people than knew the subject better than me. At the breaks it was impossible to network, because nobody knew me or was helping me to connect, but I was fine and stayed with the students who were in the same position as me. The annoying thing was to be the last to talk, on a saturday morning after the Banquet the night before if I remember well, so not many people were still here.

This time it was much different, strong from a finished successful PhD, a few papers in good journals that people actually read and cite, a bunch of early-career scientists that I met along  the way at different meetings and workshops, and different collaborations with accomplished researchers here and there, I was actually running everywhere and talking to everyone. The freshly created early-career committee  did a fantastic job. I particularly appreciated Pierre Pistorius‘ description of how he arrived where he is now, so inspiring and funny, and surprising the amount of luck it takes to succeed sometimes. I have been lucky as well to have a post-doc coming out on my topic exactly when I needed it at the British Antarctic Survey with a NERC (Natural Environmental Research Council) grant and with a great supervisor! While I was pregnant, Richard Phillips convinced me that I was not too young or too woman to organise my own symposium with my own team and ideas. So I did it, with the help of Morten Frederiksen and Daniel Oro who were super supportive. The experience in itself wasn’t that much work but very good to create a connection with the researchers you invite and a bit stressful to be a chair …but so rewarding. I advise that everyone should do it!

This is the future of seabird demography: From left to righ Stephanie Jenouvrier, Jaimie Cleeland, Catharine Horswill and myself.



My first PhD student, Jaimee Cleeland from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia, giving her talk… I was so proud! She is specialised on both tracking and demography of the albatross community of Macquarie Island.IMG_8082

and here you can find a video of my talk called 3 albatross species, 3 population crashes, one demographic model to contrast causes and consequences.


Post a comment