The PSGB Spring Conference

The Primate Society of Great Britain Spring Conference 2014 was my first scientific conference, and the first time I have presented my work to the scientific primate community. For me it was a little like what normal people must feel like when given a VIP ticket to a gig or film premier-listening to the likes of Dunbar and Hosey talk so casually about their work which I have been reading for years, seated in an audience with Ian Redmond, witness to academic questions and debates in a lecture theatre that was a step above any I had ever been in before. The memorial event for Cyril Rosen was respectful and sincere, with a video link from Jane Goodall who said goodbye to Cyril in chimpanzee hoots, an additional highlight for many there.

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I was happy to have received a lot of positive feedback about my poster and my study by a variety of different primatologists, and it gave me an opportunity to meet people and discuss ideas. I would have liked to have given my introductory talk to the audience of the first day, which was predominated by the zoo community and those working to better captive welfare of primates from exploitative industries. Yet I was a little disappointed to present my work on the second day, when the tone of the conference had changed to a more theoretical baseline, with many of the zoo specialists having left the night before. Nevertheless the experience was an eye-opener as I had yet to speak in front of an audience whos opinion I actually cared about, being more used to giving talks to zoo visitors and the general public-this was definitely a new game. I’m happy to say that I didn’t trip up the stage, forget my words or ramble nonsense at a confused audience so I can at least walk away knowing I could have made an absolute mess of things which I didn’t do.

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I also felt proud to be representing the project which I feel so passionately about, and in the first day in particular, that passion was shared amongst myself and new acquaintances. Speaking with scientists about my work gave me a new perspective of the primatological community: that although the traditional male dominated scientists may scorn at the young female scientist brimming with compassion for unfortunate primates with anthropomorphic names, it doesn’t make either approach more scientific or important than the other. Talking with people who are very successful within the captive primate world let me sigh  a sigh of relief, others have been where I am before me. I think it might be time to stop doubting myself.

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