May 20, 2021, by Ruth Musson

Celebrating success at the British Society of Animal Science Annual Conference

PhD students Kerensa Hawkey and Lucy Ross tell us about their experiences presenting at this year’s conference 

Kerensa and Lucy are both final year PhD students. Lucy is studying whole-farm feed efficiency in UK dairy systems whilst Kerensa is looking at using insects for animal feed.

Both became members of the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS), as it is good value and there are lots of opportunities for webinars and workshops. Lucy has recently become the Chair of the Early Career Council.

The BSAS put on a conference annually, which is attended by a mixture of academics, students and industry representatives. 3 of our students, including Kerensa and Lucy were considered for the industry prize in 2020 – but the event was cancelled due to Covid-19. This year it went ahead as a four day virtual conference which focussed on Developing Talent. There were many presentations from young researchers including a number from Nottingham. Prizes were offered to the winners of different categories – Kerensa won the Industry prize, Lucy the Developing Talent.

Challenges of presenting at a virtual conference

Kerensa Hawkey won the Industry prize for her paper “Lower feed quality does not impact on the nutritional composition of Tenebrio molitor”

Kerensa gave both a recorded and a live presentation. The live presentation consisted of five minutes speaking followed by 5 minutes of questions mainly from the judges. The difficulties was speaking to a screen rather than live people. The inability to see the audience means that there is no clue of how the talk is going and it is of course impossible to make eye contact with anyone.

Lucy was fortunate that her talk was pre-recorded only – both said that they found that easier but agreed that watching themselves back was not pleasant! Lucy also pointed out that she rerecorded hers a few times – feeling obliged to redo the whole thing if she made a mistake rather than just carrying on.

One benefit of the virtual format was that there was a bit of pre-warning for the questions.  It was really helpful that the questions were typed and could be seen first rather than having to answer a face to face question immediately.

Lucy Ross who won with her paper “Effect of age at first calving
on longevity and lifetime
performance in HolsteinFriesian dairy heifers”

Overall Experience
Both found the conference very enjoyable and useful. Everyone was very friendly and helpful appreciating that this was something new for the presenters. Surprisingly even the virtual conference was an opportunity to network. The conference organisers used a platform called Whova which made connecting easier. Lucy and Kerensa both found it less daunting to approach people virtually rather than going up to them in person.

The future

In the summer (Covid allowing) Kerensa will be presenting and Lucy attending the 72nd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science in Davos, Switzerland.

Want to learn more?

All the abstracts for the Conference presentations are available here

Undergraduate students are particularly encouraged to join BSAS. Membership costs £15 per year. Look on the website or contact Lucy Ross

Find more information about post graduate research degrees in Biosciences  here 

Posted in Uncategorized