From Amsterdam to Mehico

Well although I have not been at this PhD game for long I have already signed up for two trips abroad. The first of which is not too far, just over the pond to Holland for the 2010 European meeting of the International Society for Reef Studies. The conference is 4 days and covers a range of topics and although all are interesting only the physiology of reef organisms will directly work to my PhD. Many people do not attend big conferences this early on but rather save them till nearer the end of their studies when they can present. However there are some really interesting talks going on at this meeting and I thought why wait for another two years when I can see now what research is being conducted as it may directly relate and influence my work. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing the godfather of coral research Ove Hoegh-Guldberg speak who currently authors both the 1st and 2nd most cited papers in the last 10 years in the topic of coral reefs and whose blog can be found here

Now I’m never one to miss out on a chance to take in a bit of culture and although I’m very busy with work right now and would like to stay a few extra days in Amsterdam, I have just about managed to squeeze time for a good day. Basically I need to be there Tuesday night and instead I’m flying early morning so I cam see the sights! I’m thinking Christmas markets, Van-Gogh museum, and a brief stroll down the red light district! The trip is next week so I will keep you updated about how things go and add some pictures.

The second of my upcoming trips is rather further afield. My supervisor suggested to me to apply for this ‘Light and Photosynthesis on Coral Reefs’ course. The application was quite long and very competitive as there were only 16 places, also the deadline was early November and I hadn’t heard for a month so assumed I didn’t make it. Then lo and behold last Friday I received an acceptance email and information about myself and 9 other participants attending. The course is pretty intense, it involves 75 hours of lectures and 75 hours of practical work over 3 weeks so basically 9 until late everyday (although we do get a 2 hour midday siesta!). The course is taught by some very influential people in the reef photosynthesis world such as Dr. Roberto Iglesias Prieto and covers topics such as;

• History of research in photosynthesis and key experiments.
• Irradiance fields in the aquatic environment.
• Organization of photosynthetic structures.
• Light capture, energy transfer.
• Reaction center biochemistry.
• Electron transfer.
• Photophosphorylation.
• CO2 fixation.
• Environmental factors that control oceanic primary production.
• Mechanisms to cope with environmental variables.

I know it sounds intense but I am so excited about this. I have been to Mexico before and actually stayed not far down the road from Puerto Morelos where this course is held. Plus it will be got, sunny and there are white sandy beaches! I have already been in touch with the other participants about sharing accommodation and we have talked about renting a condo on the beach. I can imagine now siestas in the day and fiestas at night! I’m also hoping that I might be able to get a few days somewhere on the way back. Most flights stop in Canada or America so was hoping for maybe 2 nights in Toronto or new York!

This is the sort of view i will be waking up to every day! Not to make you too jealous, but i will update how things go, still have until January the 16th so fingers crossed all goes to plan. The most difficult bit will be coming back from skiing in France at bout -10 degrees to flying to Mexico at 28 degrees plus the jet-lag!!


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