Thanks to the QCBS Excellence Award, a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Models in Population Dynamics and Ecology International Conference in Torino (Italy, August 25th-29th). This city, with its university founded in 1404, has a long history of renowned mathematicians and scientists, such as Giuseppe Peano and the Noble Prize Renato Dulbecco, so it was the ideal setting for this kind of event.
The Rectorate of the University of Torino, main venue of the conference.
The participants of the conference were mostly mathematical modellers interested in many different aspects of biology and medicine, from epidemiology to invasive species, to population ecology. Such audience was pretty heterogeneous, both geographically, with people from all around the world, and as regard their background. It consisted for a big part of mathematicians who are interested in applying their knowledge to biological phenomena, plus some biologists, ecologists, and physicists, who became interested in mathematical modelling as a powerful tool for their research purposes. Therefore, we all shared the same interest in using mathematical models to describe our systems of interest. In my particular case, I am trying to develop a quantitative framework that would allow scientists and stakeholders to estimate the risk associated with invasive species, known for their detrimental effects and claimed to be the main driver of biodiversity loss in aquatic environments. Such framework would include a variety of mathematical modelling and statistical techniques, which will permit to make use of all the data available at the maximum extent, for the best predictions and risk assessment.
A good number of talks given during the conference were focused on epidemiology and population dynamics, but many of these disciplines’ principles and processes have a lot in common with invasion ecology, so I could get interesting hints to eventually improve and extend my project. I also had the chance to receive good feedback on my research and to talk with potential future collaborators that were interested in working together, in applying the first part of my framework to a different case study, and in sharing data.
The experience was amazing by all accounts. The location was vibrant and the organization flawless, including interesting social activities that made networking easier for everybody. All the participants were ready and willing to share opinions, ideas and critiques, creating a productive and stimulating environment.
The Mole Antonelliana, symbol of the city.
Lidia Della Venezia
PhD candidate – Leung Lab
Department of Biology