As a brief digression here from what is likely to be a long drawn-out series of Evolution 2012 posts, I thought I’d briefly mention a meeting which I went to earlier this week. The Scottish Ecological Ageing Research group has an annual meeting which generally covers a variety of topics within the broad remit of ‘ageing’; this year, the definition of the group was pushed even further by the host institution being Durham University. For those of you who are not up on UK geography, Durham is in England. A great selection of talks was put together by organiser David Weinkove, from Lyndsey Stewart‘s investigation of the compound resveratrol’s effect on later-life cognitive performance to Nick Priest‘s mathematical modelling approaches to finding ‘hidden heterogeneity’ in demographic data (by way of systems modelling of the nutrient sensing network, and the impact of migration on reproductive ageing among the UK’s Bangladeshi population!).
We were also treated to a talk by Dan Nussey of the University of Edinburgh’s Wild Evolution group, talking about the amazing long-term work they’ve been doing on the Soay sheep on St Kilda. I still live in hope of being able to go over and join in their annual round-ups of the sheep for data collection, although when I asked Dan about it at last year’s meeting I caught the eye of my supervisor, who simply hissed “you’ve got work to do” at me from across the table…! Anyway, while I’m on the subject, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the Wild Animal Modelling Wiki site if you’re at all interested in how quantitative genetic methods can be used on data taken from natural populations (although still useful for those of us looking at lab populations as well). Also, stay tuned for the rest of my Evolution 2012 Ottawa posts, where I’ll discuss the amazing work in this vein presented by Jane Reid of Aberdeen University, and by Alistair Wilson of Edinburgh.
Having followed my crickets for their entire lifetimes on a huge experiment I performed at the outset of my PhD, I also presented some work that sort of fits the ageing bill. I delivered the same talk I’d given at Evolution Ottawa last week – with a couple of alterations made after being a little unhappy with my performance there – although this was slightly less nerve-racking (mostly because I was now in a normal-sized room, and my slides weren’t projected onto a cinema-sized screen!). It seemed to go down quite well, or at least I’m going to take the fact that I had to contend with around 10 minutes worth of questions to suggest this was the case…
Although Ottawa was an incredible experience, I really value these smaller one-day meetings (having attended a maternal effects meeting at the University of Edinburgh this year, and presented at the Scottish Animal Behaviour meeting). They bring together a very diverse group of individuals and research interests under a loose umbrella, and it’s great to get feedback and thoughts from other people, as well as to see what else is going on. From a purely selfish point of view, it’s also great experience to present in a slightly less terrifying situation than the one I found myself in last week!