Forams 2018: Edinburgh

Rehemat Bhatia

University College London


From June 18th-22nd, over 400 foraminifera enthusiasts from all over the world descended upon the city of Edinburgh, Scotland for the Forams 2018 conference. This conference is held once every four years, and pretty much covers anything to do with foraminifera, from genetics to geochemistry to the use of foraminifera in biomonitoring! I was quite excited to attend, as it was aptly timed with the end of my PhD (I successfully defended my PhD thesis with minor corrections just over a week before the start) so presented an opportunity to share my foram stories.

The conference icebreaker was held on June 17th, at the Playfair Library at Old College Hall, which provided a picturesque backdrop for everyone to mingle and catch up. I also helped to organise a ‘tweet-up’ with two early career researchers – Adriane Lam (PhD candidate at UMass, USA)  and Jennifer Hertzberg (postdoc at Old Dominion University, USA). There are a large number of foram workers on Twitter, so we thought it would be fun to host a tweet-up for everyone to meet, and for those travelling alone to meet others. Many people came along to say hello, which was great!

Throughout the week, I attended talks both pertinent to my PhD and those that were slightly outside my research, as well as exploring the poster sessions throughout the day. At the conference, I presented two posters, one on Monday 18thentitled “Palaeoecology of Eocene planktonic foraminifera inferred from paired trace element and isotopic data” and a second on Tuesday 19thentitled “The mysterious palaeoecology of the genus Globigerinatheka”. Both were well received and I had some really useful discussions based on the data I presented, which will be useful for when I write up my PhD results into research papers. The feedback I received for the poster I presented on Monday was particularly useful for doing my thesis corrections, as I was able to talk with other ECRs and senior scientists who perform individual foraminifera analyses using highly spatially resolved analytical techniques. There was a good “work hard, play hard ethic” at the conference too, with a ceilidh on Tuesday evening and field trips to a variety of locations on Wednesday. The ceilidh was loads of fun (and definitely good exercise after sitting down listening to talks all day!) and the field trip to the Isle of May was puffin-tastic!

I thoroughly enjoyed attending Forams 2018, and it was the perfect ending to my PhD. I learnt lots of new science, was able to network with other scientists, and have returned to London with new motivation to do my thesis corrections and write up my data into papers. Forams 2018 is a micropalaeontological menagerie, and for students reading this I would encourage you to attend. I would like to thank the Challenger Society for allocating me a student travel grant and for making this experience possible – I had an awesome time!

Profile: Rehemat has just defended her PhD at University College London. Her PhD research focused on using the trace element and stable carbon and oxygen isotope signatures of Eocene and Miocene planktonic foraminifera to understand more about their ecologies, namely their depth habitats and relationships with photosymbionts. 

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