With the QCBS student excellence award, I was able to present my thesis research the ESA annual conference in Sacramento. My name is Hedvig and I’m a PhD student in UQAM/UQAR. I work on modelling the spruce budworm outbreaks that take place every 35 years for the last centuries (at least). You might not have heard of the spruce budworm if you’re younger than 30 years because the last outbreak in Québec occurred in the 70s. It is one of the most destructive forest insects in Western North America, and right now there is an outbreak starting in Quebec! In my research, I’m making a model of the outbreaks in which the forest can be either mature forest that the spruce budworm prefers to attack, infected or recovering young forest. This is different from the way spruce budworm models are usually done, because it’s more like an epidemiological SIR model on a landscape scale. The change of scale is quite useful because it allows us to compare the model to the past outbreaks as shown by aerial landscape data.
Since I had written in the abstract that the presentation was partly in epidemiology, I got placed in the ‘Epidemiology and Disease IV’ section. I went to a couple of epidemiology sessions before mine to learn more about the topic, because I’m more an ecologist than an epidemiologist! The presentation went well although I spoke a little fast, but I think that’s ok for the first time at a large conference. Afterwards I got lots of questions, and two people said they were interested in using the model in their own work – encouraging! The conference was also a time to meet old colleagues and friends, and meet new ones. A great week!