Technician Life

Greetings from Denver, Colorado!!

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What a week?!?! We’ve heard many talks and seen lots of posters on different aspects of herbicide resistance from around the globe. There’s been great dialogue between researchers championing the important work we all do. The weather has ranged from very hot to snow in five days. And I’ve done my best to do as many typical American things as I can. It must be the Global Herbicide Resistance Challenge conference!!

For the past week we have all been living in a suite of rooms in a hotel in downtown Denver learning about all things herbicide resistance related. And what a great week it has been. We’ve had a large contingent from Rothamsted attending; our PhD student Claudia, the two post-docs Andrea and David, technicians Richard and myself and of course our senior scientist Paul. I have been very lucky to come to this conference but Paul kindly said that I could attend because I have contributed to the work being presented by my colleagues. Of course there’s no such thing as a free lunch and so I spent a frantic week recently writing, editing and formatting my poster to bring here to present. But I’m really proud of it and was more than happy to get the chance to show off some of the work we’ve been doing. Altogether we’ve had four posters and a talk at the conference so I feel we’ve succeeded in bombarding delegates with our black-grass message.

Conferences are interesting concepts. This is my third big conference I have been to in my relatively short academic life and even though the sample size is small, I think I’ve got a good handle on how it works. Basically it involves a lot of sitting, listening and talking, which is strangely tiring. It’s good to hear what other researchers are working on and of course gives you opportunity to share ideas and potentially collaborate. Networking is the name of the game which can be hard but it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and having a poster helps to start that conversation. I feel like I’ve given it a good go this week. This conference has mostly consisted of talks but one morning we had a choice of workshops to attend which was great as it broke up the sessions and forced us to think a bit and chat more. I spent a morning talking about socioeconomics and playing a role-play game on managing resistance and how you react to your ‘neighbour’ having a resistance problem.

Whilst here we’ve tried to embrace all things American. We’ve been staying in local Air BnB places which has been good as its forced us to walk around the city and get a feel for local life. On the way into the conference the other morning, Claudia and I got overly excited to see a yellow school bus. Andrea (an American herself) thought something had happened until she realised we were just squeaking about a bus. The food has been great. I’ve tried biscuits and gravy, a huge burger and fries and some mac n’ cheese. I can also report that the local beer is good. Probably our most American thing we’ve done was to attend a baseball game on Sunday. My knowledge of baseball extends as far as it’s a game similar to rounders….but different. It was an exciting experience, we had a beer, saw a couple of home runs and managed to avoid being hit by the ball. I think I’ve done the tourist thing well whilst in the US.

I have had a great week. I enjoyed speaking to lots of people about the work I do and discuss my poster with delegates. Networking has been fun and I’ve chatted to interesting people and shared the trials and tribulations of working in herbicide resistance. I am very grateful to my team for supporting me coming to this conference and I have enjoyed my first foray to the United States. I am looking forward to getting back home but we’ve got time this afternoon for a final exploration of Denver, in the snow!!

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