Getting ready for #BES2019

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the British Ecological Society is coming up! It’s time to finalise (or maybe start!) preparing talks and posters, but also to get ready for one of the best scientific events of the year! Whether you’re attending the meeting for the first time or are a regular attendee, this blog post is for you! Here, I have compiled some posts from past meetings and have added all the information and tips you need to make the most of #BES2019, in Belfast!


If you like discussing science, sharing knowledge and debating new ecological theories in a friendly atmosphere, then the BES meeting is the place to be. But don’t forget to have fun (although no doubt you will anyway), because the meeting offers many opportunities to meet people in a variety of different settings. The main meeting starts with the Welcome Mixer on Tuesday (18:30-20:30) and continues that same day with the Science Slam (20:30-23:00, The Black Box), which I highly recommend. During this event, scientists will perform on stage to showcase their passion for ecology in exciting and unconventional ways (you can find videos of previous acts on the BES YouTube channel). Luckily, there are still some places available to attend the Science Slam 2019 and you can buy your ticket here.

The Smaller Welcome Mixer. Tuesday 17:30-18:30 – Arc Bar & Room 1

Don’t forget about the BES Accessibility Network! This is a welcoming group of individuals, who are happy to offer their support to anyone who is managing medical, physical and/or mental health conditions. They can provide assistance and guidance about the conference, and also for your career more generally.

Visit the supporting your attendance page, to find out what additional resources are available to you at the Annual Meeting. Our Smaller Welcome Mixer provides a quieter space where you can meet other attendees and gain some confidence, before attending the main welcome mixer together. There is also information on where to go if you need some quiet space,  how to get help finding a seat at the conference and advice on how to stay well during a long, busy and exciting week.

Karen Devine, Head of External Affairs, BES

The conference dinner, at Titanic Belfast on Thursday (20:00), is another highlight of the week! If you can’t make the dinner, you can still join once the dinner is finished, as doors will open to everyone for a drink and a dance when the band starts. Yes, you heard right, there is a cèilidh band, and music until late into the night! And if I haven’t already convinced you that BES meetings are fun, maybe Associate Editor Jane Catford will…have a look at her blog post about BES 2016 in Liverpool “Fun Times at the BES Annual Meeting 2016“.

The BES meeting is a VERY INCLUSIVE event and welcomes scientists from all backgrounds. Since the creation of the Equality and Diversity Working Group (EDWG) in 2015, the BES has done a lot to promote gender balance in conference sessions, provide childcare options during the conference, support researchers with disabilities through the Accessibility Network, create a safe place for LGBT+ ecologists and raise awareness about mental health issues in academia. The BES annual meeting 2015 saw the first LGBT+ mixer organised by our Associate Editor Iain Stott and Richard English (BES Communications Manager at the time) and is now a regular mixer, which grows more and more popular each year.

LGBT+ mixer. Thursday 19:00-20:00 – Room 2a

As an LGBT+ person it can often be difficult to find your crowd in the crowd.

At the LGBT+ mixer you won’t have this problem, and in our 5th year of running we’re hoping to catch up with old faces and also meet lots of new ones.

Iain Stott, Associate Editor of Journal of Ecology

Later on (and despite the Snowpocalypse), the 2017 joint Annual Meeting (Ecology Across Borders) of the BESGföNECOV and EEF was a striking example of dedication towards improving equality and diversity within the community of ecologists, as you can read in this previously published blog post “EAB2017: A Time to Shed Light on Equality and Diversity in Academia!” I can assure you that it won’t be any different at #BES2019. This year will mark the beginning of a new initiative ‘Challenging Conversations’ focusing on ecologists coming from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, which is being organised by Cecilia Medupin and Karen Devine.

Challenging Conversations. Thursday 13:45-14:45 – Room 3B

It’s great to be part of the BES initiative ‘Challenging Conversations’ to explore the concept of inclusion and diversity amongst members of the BES who come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. By having this discussion, we hope to explore the values, challenges and limitations that make people from these diverse backgrounds feel different in their work environments and communities. During the discussion, we will explore opportunities/ways by which identified challenges could be addressed, with the aim to influence positive decisions in terms of openness and confidence. As this is the first of the series of discussions, BES stands as a reference for other professional organisations to emulate.

Cecilia Medupin, E&D Working Group, BES

Conferences can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you lean toward the introverted-attitude type (here are some tips to manage this), but don’t worry we’ve got lots of great guides to help you navigate through it. The first guide is from Associate Editor Rob Salguero-Gomez titled ‘Surviving at a conference in 10 Easy Steps.’ This offers tips on how to make the most of the meeting – before, during and afterwards. The second resource is from Erin Chapman who summarises the 2019 Annual Meeting Webinars which took place last week. These were led by Cass Raby, Dan Forman, Melanie Edgar, Iain Stott, Ali Birkett and Emma Peasland and focus on networking and personal wellbeing during a conference. Most of this advice can also be found in the BES Guide ‘Attending Your First BES Annual Meeting‘. So go check these out!

I hope that these few tips will help you get ready for #BES2019. Enjoy the great science and have fun! See you there.

Pierre Mariotte, Associate Editor of Journal of Ecology


More great stuff to look at:

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