Reflecting on the 2023 BSSS Early Careers’ Conference in Belfast

Jan 18, 2024 | Blog, Featured Blog, News

As the Early Career Committee continue to work on the goals set out for the year ahead, we wanted to reflect on how we finished up in 2023 – with our fantastic biennial Early Careers’ Conference! We hope you’ll agree with us when we say that the conference sent us into the Christmas break feeling inspired about soil science and proud to be amongst a huge breadth of knowledge in the beautiful setting of the Assembly Buildings Conference Centre in Belfast.

The conference was the culmination of a year of planning from the committee and the office, and we have been thrilled by all of the positive feedback that we have received. It is always great to hear that members value the events that we put on for you. If you were there, we hope you know what we are talking about, if you couldn’t make it then here is a recap of what we packed into only 2 days!

Outreach: Danni and Jay from our EC Committee also visited a local school, as part of an outreach programme, to speak to the children about the importance of soil using our new loan box, (you can get yours here).

Keynotes: Two fantastic keynotes from Professor Paul Hallett and Assistant Professor Saoirse Tracy, who both provided an overview of their career in soil science and what their work involves now. They even shared with us a photo of them both as early careers members at an early careers event!

Oral presentations: covering themes such as nutrient management, soil carbon, technology and innovation. My congratulations go out to Catriona Willoughby again for best oral presentation!

Workshops: by Dr Dan Evans (Left) on grant writing and the building blocks of your portfolio whatever that may look like, Arcadis (Middle) building on that portfolio idea when getting us to think about our skills and knowledge that can be applied to other areas of the industry, and BSSS (Right) updating us on how we can progress and utilise the resources that a membership (Early Career and Full) can offer us to develop ourselves as Soil Scientists.

Poster Presentations: The huge number of poster presentations which provided a perfect setting for chats about your research over coffee with like-minded attendees and those who knew little about your area but wanted to learn more. Congratulations again to Elisabeth Appleton (Left) for best poster and Megha Kaviraj (Right) who won the delegates’ choice award, a new award chosen by our very own members!

Networking: What makes an excellent conference is networking right? Our conference program included several opportunities to do just this. From the walking trail around Belfast City at the start of the conference, the conference dinner and quiz night at the end of Day 1, and lots of time over coffee.

Thank you again to all of our speakers, presenters, and to our judges – Paul, Saoirse, Nikki, Catherine and Vic! Last, but not least, thank you to our conference sponsors SoilBenchmark and Arcadis, who help keep the conference free for Early Career Members to attend.

The conference was Kirsty’s last event as the Early Careers Committee Chair, who handed over to Danni who will no doubt do a fantastic job leading the committee over the next two years.

So, what’s next? Keep an eye out on upcoming events with sneak peaks and more information being released soon, as well as other BSSS events like the Zoom into Soil webinars (next session scheduled to be on Wednesday 7 February) and the Working with Soil courses later on in the year. In the meantime, keep networking with each other and sharing what you’ve been up to with us! You can find us on X @ECSoil_Sci.

Lastly, if you’d like to join the committee, drop Danni an email! We’re looking for people just like you!

Danni Roche and Kirsty Charles on behalf of the Early Careers Committee

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