Thoughts on PAGES OSM- with photographic evidence

I am aware that not many people had the great opportunity like me to attend PAGES OSM 2017. Therefore, I wanted to share some of the key things that got stuck with me after the conference.

 

Science

There was an outstanding list of presentations and strong sessions. I am not aiming to pick a favourite, but I would like to highlight the following ones: “From the Mediterranean to the Caspian: paleoclimate variability, environmental responses and human adaptative strategies” with convener Ana Moreno et al, “Do species move or die” with convener N. Whitehouse et al, and specially “Disturbance dynamics across special and temporal scales” with convener Graciela Gil-Romera et al. Papers discussed there were largely multidisciplinary, and generated good discussions.

I felt that the plenaries weren’t as broad, strong or focused as I would have expected. I felt some of them were a little scattered in ideas, and one of them not really tackling the issue of climate change. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Erik Wolf’s presentation on “Warm worlds”, his presentation was not full of great research and facts, but also felt genuine, and quite fun.

What was a kind of surprise for me, but not for others, was the high quality of research in poster presentations. Back in my time of undergrad and Master studies, a poster presentation was for those that didn’t have a strong enough study to make it to the presentation. Now I can see poster presentation as the new place to showcase research. Having had two posters for PAGES OSM myself (details of presentations below), I can see this as the largest opportunity to actually share and especially discuss, about my research. Added to that is the fact that your work will have a much larger exposure as posters are generally for a whole day which does not compare with the only 15 minutes of oral presentation. I really enjoyed both my posters ads well as oral presentations anyway.

 

At one of my posters

 

Fun time!

 

Heather certainly made a difference with her poster

 

Networking

PAGES OSM really worked as a hub for researchers of common interest in past climate and the environment coming from different disciplines and geographical areas. I met not just colleagues from various institutions from the UK, but also from Chile and Brazil. I also meet new people, especially from Spain, that are doing similar studies in the Mediterranean that I would have not known otherwise. There were great networking opportunities, which is always welcome you can end them up having some quality tapas in a fantastic old town centre.

 

Organisation

I think this has been one of the best organisations I have seen in a conference. I did not notice major issues besides the change of the timetable for the plenaries in the very first day, and some queuing for the lunch time (we really needed those 2 hours lunch break to do this and rest the great lunch afterwards).  I saw everything very well thought and programmed, from the rooms and the system for the presentations to be loaded, up to the timing of the food for breaks and lunch. There was always plenty of bottled water available for us to drink, and of course, a good Wi-Fi (which wasn’t available for free at the Palynology meeting in Bahia last year!)

One thing worth mentioning: the food was fan-tas-tic.  We were almost a 1000 delegates, and the food was always ready, and delicious. The best for me, there was catering for vegetarians and people that have a gluten free diet… and it wasn’t boring! The one not minor issue was that the amount of food for people with special dietary was limited. I saw several colleagues struggling to get enough to eat in most days. Nevertheless, there was something that was never missing: red wine always available at the tables for lunchtime.

 

Gluten free and vegetarian options at the opening ceremony

 

Coffee breaks with fruits!

 

Tasty salad and creamy butternut squash soup for lunch!

 

Venue

The Auditorio de Zaragoza is a spacious place, modern and of a very professional feeling. We could all fit well -yet cosy- for the poster sessions, and at the main room for the plenaries (having in mind that not all people attend the very early talks). Just one thing I found disappointing, which was that two rooms for oral sessions were located in a hotel that was nearby the Auditorio. These rooms were not near to the quality of rooms inside the Auditorio and they felt a little isolated. Still, the organisation on those and the rest of rooms worked out very well, at least in the sessions I was attending.

Zaragoza is a fabulous city to visit, plenty of places of cultural and historic importance, the Goya Museum and archaeological sites amongst them, as well as rich architecture. Places to go for dinner or tapas were plenty, and all at reasonable prices.

Nuestra Senora del Pilar Cathedral and the Ebro River

 

Gorgeous Aljaferia! Vestiges of the time of the caliphs

 

 

I am quite pleased to have attended in PAGES OSM, I’ve got a lot from it. Looking forward to the next one!

 

by Macarena

 

 

H. Plumpton; F. Mayle; B. Whitney. Impact of mid-Holocene drought upon Bolivian seasonally-dry tropical forests

J, Iriarte; M. Robinson; J. de Souza; M. L. Cárdenas; F. Mayle; R. Corteletti; P. DeBlasis. The Making of the Forest: Human-induced spread of Araucaria forest out of their natural range in the southern Brazilian highlands

Iriarte; R. Smith; J. Gregorio de Souza; F. Mayle; B. Whitney; M. L. Cárdenas; J. Singarayer; J. F. Carson; S. Roy; P. Valdes. Out of Amazonia: Late-Holocene climate change and the Tupi-Guarani trans-continental expansion

M. L. Cárdenas; F. E. Mayle; J. Iriarte; J. Gregorio de Souza; P. Ulguim; M. Robinson; R. Corteletti; P. DeBlasis. Past vegetation changes in the context of land use and late Holocene expansion of the Jê pre-Columbian culture in Southern Brazil

Freeman, M. L. Cárdenas; V. Iglesias; J. M. Capriles; C. Latorre; J. Freeman; D. Byers; J. Finley; M. Cannon; A. Gil; G. Neme; E. Robinson; J. DeRose. PEOPLE 2K (PalEOclimate and the PeopLing of the Earth): Investigating tipping points generated by the Climate-Human Demography-Institutional nexus

 

Palaeo-science in the Pyrenees at PAGES YSM 2017

Morillo de Tou – the beautiful location of the YSM

I recently attend the PAGES (Past Global Changes) YSM (Young Scientists Meeting) as well as the OSM (Open Science Meeting) 2017 in sunny Spain. The YSM was particularly exciting – a group of 80 early career researchers met in the Pyrenees, at the restored village of Morillo de Tou.

Morillo de Tou

Morillo de Tou

 

The spectacular surroundings were matched by spectacular science, with a combination of great talks and posters as well as breakout group discussions and workshops. The schedule was pretty packed, but we made time for some star gazing with local astronomers and a night of traditional Aragon music and “dancing” in the moonlight. Overall, I thought the YSM was an excellent opportunity to meet other young scientists, and discuss issues of particular import to our community.

A highlight for me was the breakout discussion on communication with the public and communicating the relevance of palaeo-science to funders and policy makers. We had some great discussions in our group, centering on the need to engage children in science from a young age. We also talked about the importance of telling a story when you present your work, and how talking to politicians and journalists in a positive, optimistic way can enhance engagement.

We also discussed the idea of setting up a PAGES working group for young scientists, with regular meetings to discuss funding, careers and to network. Watch this space!

 

The conference venue at Morillo de Tou

 

I enjoyed presenting my PhD work in the Monday morning session, and received some helpful feedback from fellow YSM participants through a peer review scheme. I think the scheme was a great way to encourage everyone to consider their own presentation style, by reviewing their peers’.

A further benefit of attending the YSM was that we already knew 80 people attending the OSM in Zaragoza, so there were plenty of friendly faces amid the ~900 OSM participants. This made the OSM much less intimidating and more enjoyable. Overall, the organisation of the YSM was incredible and I would certainly encourage early careers researchers to attend the next one in 2021. The only complaint was the cold coffee at breakfast – conference mornings without coffee are a tough sell for sleepy PhD students… but the beautiful Spanish sunshine more than made up for it.

Morning views across the lake at Morillo de Tou

 

If you’re interested in what went on at PAGES 17 (YSM and OSM) check out the #PAGES17 on twitter for some great insights.

By Heather Plumpton 

@heatherplumpton