The Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) is a collaboration between research groups to hold workshops for PhD students and early career researchers (ECRs). This year, the Deakin Conservation Science Lab joined Oxford’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) and Sterling Conservation Science as an ICN organising partner. Lab members Kate Watermeyer and Jess Rowland participated on the organising committee, Emily Nicholson as a mentor and Simone Stevenson as a participant.
The workshop kick-starts a collaborative research exercise which ideally concludes in a publication authored by the participants. For many attendees, this is their first experience in developing research ideas in a workshop format. Over the course of two days, we worked in groups to develop a paper concept and plan, supported by senior academic mentors. The result was a unique combination of hands-on learning and real outcomes, both in terms of publication but also in building ongoing networks with peers.
This year, the workshop was split into three themes. The Conservation Science Lab were all in the group focused on indicators and models, where Emily was joined by other high profile mentors EJ Milner-Gulland and Derek Tittensor. Over the course of the workshop, we developed the concept for a short paper aimed at informing new international targets for managing nature under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
For our lab, some of the workshop highlights included:
Simone (PhD student)
“I think seeing the progression of brainstorming to refinement and a final concept ‘pitch’ (with some well-placed advice from our mentors along the way) was such a useful experience. It’s definitely not easy, but I feel like I have a positive reference point for collaborative research into the future.”
“The best part for me was having the time to sit and discuss some problems I have been thinking about for a while, with a set of new people with different and fresh perspectives. And the diversity of perspectives didn’t come just from different fields, but also from different levels and types of experience, context and different geographic settings.”
Kate (Early career researcher)
“I had a couple of highlights, the first was getting to meet and spend time with the mentors who are leaders in our field, as well as the other ECRs and PhD students. This was also my first time being on the leadership team for a workshop to produce a paper. It was a really valuable experience, and I learnt a lot from the mentors and co-leaders.”
Jess (PhD student)
“One highlight was the plenary on career pathways in conservation run by EJ Milner-Gulland, Professor Lord John Krebs and Derek Tittensor. I’m nearing the final year of my PhD so working out what I want to do next is definitely on my mind! The key messages for me were to focus on the transferable skills that I’ve developed throughout my PhD, and to challenge myself by trying different types of work both inside and outside academia.”
So what next? Watch this space!! Pulling together a collaborative paper across different continents is no easy feat, but the workshop has a good track record, with previous alumni having published two papers (see Arlidge et al (2018) ‘A Global Mitigation Hierarchy for Nature Conservation’, and Mason et al (2018) ‘Wicked Conflict: Using Wicked Problem Thinking for Holistic Management of Conservation Conflict’), and another in review.
We would also like to thank the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network and E.J. Milner-Gulland for organising and providing much of the funding for the workshop, along with co-sponsor Nils Bunnefeld of Stirling Conservation Science, our theme co-leader Cecilia Larrosa, Mike Burgass and the entire ICN Workshop organising committee. We would also like to thank the Australian Research Council and CSIRO for their support for our attendance, and Deakin University Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment and Centre for Integrative Ecology in supporting our partnership with the ICN.