October 31, 2014, by Duane Mellor
Recently at Sutton Bonington – Nutrition Society Postgraduate Conference 2014!
Attending a conference can be an exciting experience as a researcher; it’s a great opportunity to get your name heard in your field, a chance to refine your presentation skills, and one of the rare environments in which you’ll find people to talk to who are as excited about the details of research as you are. But as an early stage researcher, this can also come with quite a bit of nervousness. If you are not yet confident presenting your work, or haven’t quite refined your networking skills, spending two days away from home with a large group of strangers can feel more than a little daunting.
Our oral communication competition winners, Pippa Ashworth and Suruchi Pradhan
With this in mind, each year the Nutrition Society hold a conference specifically for postgraduates, attended exclusively by students and organised by them too. The meeting is designed to be relaxed and informal, and gives attendees the chance to experience a conference without some of the pressure that can be found at larger events. This year, Nottingham’s Nutritional Sciences Division was the lucky host organisation!
Having received an email from the Society calling for bids to be the 2014 conference organisers, myself and fellow PhD student Marie decided we’d like to have a go at compiling a bid. Never did we believe that we’d actually succeed!
After our initial celebration upon hearing the news, we were beset by the realisation that we were entirely out of our depth and had best get cracking. What followed was a flurry of administration quite unlike anything either of us had encountered previously. There were venues to book, speakers to invite, catering needs to consider, and sponsorship to secure. Students were invited to submit abstracts which we had to read and programme, and an online booking system for them to register needed to be created. Our guest speakers needed to be accommodated so that their travel needs were met, and their speaking times fit around their other commitments. Negotiating all of these details was not something we had anticipated, but with a great deal of support from the Nutrition Society and our head of Division the event was set for 1st-2nd September 2014.
The two day programme included a host of presentations from student members of NutSoc, and guest lectures from WALTHAM, Quorn, LR Suntory, Eminate, and the Association for Nutrition. The Keynote Lecture was given by Professor Fran Ebling from Nottingham University who shared with us his research on use of seasonal animal models in appetite regulation research. Thanks to an opening presentation from our very own Professor Andy Salter about making the most out of attending conferences, every speaker was given lots of engaging questions.
Mark Hollingsworth, CEO of NutSoc talking to the student delegates.
Despite an awful lot of dashing about, we had a fantastic time hosting the conference. Organising a meeting like this gives you a whole new perspective to attending them, it certainly makes the cost of attending some of them seem less excessive! It was exciting to see our plans and suggestions of speakers come to action, and all in all the event ran smoothly. Although there was the appearance of a VERY odd dessert at the conference dinner that did not perhaps reflect well on a nutrition department! We learned a great deal from the experience – if you get the chance to get involved in the organisation of a meeting, grab it! Though maybe check your caterers aren’t planning a lemon quiche with the conference dinner first…
Blog written by Bethan Clifford who along with Marie Clark did a lot of hard work in bringing the Postgraduate Conference to Sutton Bonington and making it the success it was!