The following blog post was written by Christine O’Connor, recipient of the Summer 2014 GrEBES Travel Award:
With help from GrEBES/ASUO Travel Award I was able to attend the 2014 Evolutionary Biology of Caenorhabditis and other Nematodes meeting in Hinxton, England (a village near Cambridge) and present a poster on my work in the Phillips Lab. The conference was located at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. Besides the conference center, the campus is also home to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).
I just finished my second year in grad school so I have only been to two conferences – this one and Evo-WIBO in Port Townsend, WA. This meeting was my introduction to the world of nematode biology. Although the title included the words “Evolutionary Biology” there were sessions that focused on nematode ecology, diversity and development. This conference was in some ways more useful for me than an evolution focused conference. I spend most of my time thinking about evolution questions and reading papers a wide variety of topics related to evolution and genetics, but although I work with a nematode species (Caernorhabditis remanei), but I do not think much about nematode biology outside of the fact that you can freeze and then resurrect populations and their short development time. Sessions at this conference allowed me to learn about nematodes’ existence outside of model organisms, such as a talk on the evolution of nematode behavior, and work being done to enhance the use of nematodes as a model organism; for example a talk highlighting updates and additions to nematode phylogeny and a talk about the 959 nematode genomes project, an effort to sequence hundreds of genomes across all of nematode phylogeny – i.e species outside of the common model Caenorhabditis clade.
This conference was a new and useful experience for me, and I am very glad I was able to attend and present some of my (very preliminary) research in the UK.