UHI Inverness postgraduate students host national conference

The student-led Scotland’s Nature Student Conference 2024 at UHI House was hosted by PhD students from UHI Inverness alongside a team from NatureScot.

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Lydia McGill

Lydia McGill and James Macarthur from UHI Inverness Research and Innovation: Institute for Biodiversity and Freshwater Conservation (IBFC) organised the student-focused event that welcomed eighty final year undergraduates and post graduate students from universities across Scotland.

James McArthur

James McArthur

Lydia and Catherine Whatley from NatureScot gave student keynote talks discussing both their PhD projects and how their skills integrate into their current roles at NatureScot.

Ingrid Brubaker from the Centre of Living Sustainability at UHI Inverness presented a speed talk about her PhD project called The act of reading as community building and environmental activism.

Alanna-Jo McCallum presented her poster at the conference: Exploring the Microbiome of Scottish Freshwater Pearl Mussels.

Alanna-Jo McCallum

Alanna-Jo said: "The conference gathered passionate students and researchers across various fields, sparking engaging discussions on topics such as biodiversity conservation, river restoration, rewilding, zooarchaeology and more.

"During the conference, I presented a poster on my MRes project focusing on characterizing the microbiome of Scottish freshwater pearl mussels, Margaritifera margartifiera, populations. Utilizing non-invasive sampling techniques and state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology from Oxford Nanopore Technologies, I aim to analyse both DNA and environmental DNA (eDNA) samples collected in collaboration with UHI, NatureScott, and the Ness District Salmon Fisheries Board.

"The conference also featured insightful keynote speakers who shared their expertise on pressing environmental challenges, inspiring me to broaden my perspective on conservation research. The networking opportunities also allowed me to exchange ideas with fellow researchers and fostered potential collaborations in the future.

"Overall, the conference proved to be both educational and personally rewarding, reaffirming my dedication towards conservation biology, and provided valuable insights to enhance my own research on freshwater pearl mussels. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to connect with peers during this event and I look forward to sharing my ongoing research at upcoming conferences."