Recently it came to that time of year again that sees me travel from one side of the country to the other. On Friday 9th December, I traveled from Cambridge to Bangor in north-west Wales. Those of you whom will remember my post from last year will know I make this annual migration in order to attend Venom Day. The following day would be Venom Day 2016 and so I planned to arrive with time to spare. On that Friday night I also attended a debate organised by the Bangor University Herpetological Society. Then as now, to those of you who are familiar with my posts and my research – I’m primarily an amphibian biologist. A quick question I’d like to ask you is who isn’t fascinated by venomous reptiles (and other venomous animals)?
The conference took place in November last year and because of my recent expedition to Malaysia I feared I’d missed it. Fortunately, Venom Day was held a little later this year meaning I could still attend. I arrived in Bangor in the early evening, checked into my hotel (the same one I used last year) and waited for my colleagues to arrive. Once we had been reunited we headed to the debate and as always familiarised ourselves with the drinks on offer at the bar. One thing you learn quickly when you go to conferences is that beer is the universal currency for scientists and is a must when socialising. After sinking a few pints and enjoying the Oxford-style debate it was time to catch up with some friends I’d met at previous conferences. After we were sufficiently caught up it was time to head back to the hotel to get some sleep ready for the conference in the morning.
In the morning it was an early start in order to get to the Brambell Building in time for registration. We were prepared for a range of talks covering all manners of venomous and poisonous animals. The talks ranged from how to tackle snakebites in Kenya to the venomous properties of slow lorises and how their populations are affected by conflict. All of the talks were truly informative and delivered, although I am happy to admit that a couple of aspects in some of them went over my head a little. Of course, as any scientist would, I plan on filling these gaps in my knowledge by reading the relevant material in the scientific literature.
The day was comprised of 10 talks, ranging in length from 20 minutes to 50 minutes. Last year there were 17 talks and although this year there were almost half, everyone remain engaged and interested up until the end. Unlike most other scientific conferences I have attended over the course of my scientific career, Venom Day 2016 didn’t have a poster session. After the last speakers finished their talk we had a quick drinks reception before attending a local restaurant where we all tucked into some delicious curry. This was followed later by a drinking social, which is the only way to wrap up any scientific conference (as I’m sure most of you will agree). The following morning I packed my things ready for the long train journey home reflecting on the knowledge I’d gained the day before.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are solely this author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wandering Herpetologist website.