Last week (23rd July) saw the beginning of another culmination event within my PhD. My attendance at the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) conference, held in ExCeL in London. This is an important scientific meeting for a number of reasons: 1. It is the largest, most diverse and most well attended conference for oral and dental reearch (my academic field), 2. It is relatively local (London, rather than somewhere abroad), 3. Those that attend I am likely to need to meet with or speak to, to discuss academic collaborations or grants that we could apply for, or indeed have already applied for, and 4. I can catch up with people that I have known for many years and have either progressed through our respective PhD journeys, or their PI who is in a slightly different academic category, but again one that we have been through parallel to each other.
However, this year’s conference was more important again than just these factors suggest. During my attendance at tha British Society of Oral and Dental Research (BSODR) meeting Plymouth in September 2017, I entered for the Senior Colgate Prize. This is a highly prestigious prize for reearch that is completed in the UK in oral and dental fields. My supervisor won it over twenty years ago, and many of the names that have won it previously, have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields – many of them to professor level over time. My entry presentation was an overview of my PhD research, and there were so many entrants for this prize this time around, there were two heats (first split into four groups, winner of each then goes through to the ‘final’). I won my heat, and then presented again in the final where I also won this. I was beyond ecstatic! To have mirrored my supervisor’s achievement in winning the Senior Colgate Prize was an absolute honour to say the least, and I was so proud. This also meant that I had my attendance to the next IADR paid for by the IADR itself (which is a shame that it was held in London…next year it is Vancouver, Canada!).
The prize for the Senior Colgate was £500 personal money, and £5000 for the department (excellent!) to support reearch. And for winning, I was then nominated to represent the British division at the IADR event in London in the Hatton Prize. The format of this was different this year; in psat years it was a poster presentation, but this time was a four slide presentation, but static – no animations, videos, fly ins etc. This was actually very difficult ot put together. I had to condense 27 slides of a standard presentation into four slides, but keep the main points and the context. It was so hard to do, but I did it! I presented my work on the Tuesday (and thanks to the judges for spending the whole day from 8am-7pm listening to us all!) and then the winners were announced on the Wednesday. On this occasion, I didn’t present it particularly well and the questions I had could have been more scientific based rather than asking about the involvement of my sponsors…which was weird, but I didnt win :(.
The IADR conference itself was a blast. I caught up with so many familiar faces, had two stints on the Cardiff University stand to promote research and the courses offered at the dental school, and spent some well deserved down time with the gang from Cardiff too! We went to a few different places; Southbank, Covent Garden and for some walks around the local areas. Great food, great company – what more could I ask for?
In addition to my talks, it was great to see a number of other Cardiff University students presenting their research at this event; Clotilde Haury had an oral presentation which went very well indeed! Josh Twigg (also a member of the DW group) presented in the Senior Colgate category (but unfortuantely didn’t win this time round), and had an oral presentation in the general session, Katrina (DW group) and Jabur had posters in the general poster session (excellent work by the way guys!), Nadia, Zahraa and Amr all had posters or presentations too! Great to see so many representing the fantastic research we do at Cardiff!