Tag Archives: Richard Comont

EntoSci16 – a conference for future and budding entomologists

Fig 1a

Some of you may be wondering how this World’s first came about. Well, it was all due to Twitter. After a lot of nagging encouragement from one of my PhD students, I finally joined Twitter at the back-end of 2012. Shortly afterwards I met another new Tweeter, @Minibeastmayhem (Sally-Ann Spence in real life) who approached me with an idea that she had tried to get off the ground for a several years – an entomology conference for children. This sounded like a great idea to me and I was extremely surprised to hear that she had been told by various entomologists that it wouldn’t work. After a bit of ‘to and fro’ on Twitter we met up for a very nice Sunday lunch and hammered out a basic plan of action and a mission statement.

Fig 1b

Sally-Ann had done a lot of the preliminary work in approaching potential presenters and over the next couple of months we came up with a few more. I then sounded out my University (Harper Adams) who were very keen on the idea and agreed to do the publicity and the catering. We then began approaching a number of organisations for financial support and/or for stuff to put in the conference goodie bags. Surprisingly, some organisations that claim to support invertebrates and are keen on education, such as the RSPB and London Zoo, judging by their response, obviously didn’t even read our letters or only pay lip-service to the majority of the animal kingdom as they were singularly unhelpful.  Undeterred by these setbacks, we persevered, and with very generous support from the Royal Entomological Society , both financial and in the person of their Director of Outreach, Luke Tilley, were able to put together a very exciting package of events and presenters. And very importantly, because of the generosity of our sponsors, all free for the delegates. The big day, April 13th 2016, arrived and we were as ready as we would ever be. Almost 300 students and their accompanying adults (science teachers, careers teachers and some parents) turned up on the day, and to think that at one stage we were worried that no-one would be interested 🙂

The delegates were all issued with colour-coded conference lanyards, and with the enthusiastic help of MSc and BSc students acting as guides, were then 

Fig 1

 

started on the action-packed, and hopefully enthralling and stimulating conference circuit.

Fig 2

George McGavin (our Patron) and Erica McAlister from the Natural History Museum (London) got the conference off to a great start with two very entertaining plenary talks about the wonders of entomology and flies respectively. After that it was on to the zones.

Graham & Janice Smith with the help of Tim Cockerill, were kept very busy with their Bugs and Beetles room, Steffan Gates (the Gastronaut) gave a dazzling and interactive display of entomophagy, Amoret Whitaker from the University of Winchester introduced the students to forensic entomology which included them processing a ‘maggot-infested crime scene’, and current and past MSc Entomology students (Soap Box Scientists), the Field Studies Council, RHS Wisley, and other exhibitors provided a very interactive and informative session in Zone 5. In the main lecture theatre, Max Barclay, Erica McAlister, George McGavin, Andy Salisbury, Darren Mann and Richard Comont were subjected to a barrage of questions ranging from how much they earned, to their favourite insects, their most dangerous insect encounter, some much easier to answer than others.

The day was especially long for some of us, as BBC Breakfast came and did some live filming, which meant that the organisers,  presenters and some hastily drafted in students had to put in an appearance at 0645. I think that they felt it was worth the effort though, if only to be able to say that they had been on TV.   All in all, the day was a real buzz. Of course the real stars were the insects and other invertebrates which managed to generate real enthusiasm among the delegates and their accompanying teachers. It was wonderful to see how many of the students responded so favourably to the insects, many of whom, at first, were reluctant to get close-up and personal with them. Seeing so many young people “oohing and aahing” rather than” yukking and gagging” really made my day. I really, truly believe, that we will be seeing many of the delegates becoming professional entomologists.

I leave you with a few images to give you the flavour of the day. For more professional images this link should keep you happy.

Fig 3

Early morning preparation, coffee was very much needed

Fig 4

And we’re off to a great start

Fig 5

and it just kept getting better

Fig 6

and better

Fig 7

Some of the team, Luke Tilley, Sally-Ann Spence, Graham Smith, Tim Cockerill, George McGavin and me.

 

Fig 8

A really huge thank you to Laura Coulthard and Helen Foster, from the Harper Adams Marketing and Communications Department, who put their hearts and souls into making sure that the event ran smoothly. We couldn’t have done it without them.

And who knows, perhaps we will do it all again next year 🙂

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The Verrall Supper 2015 – A Photographic Record

Wednesday March 4th 2015 was the occasion of the latest Verrall Supper, an annual event hosted by the Entomological Club, the oldest extant entomological society in the world.  I am, for my sins, the Supper Member, which means that I have to organise the event, for a more detailed description of my role click here.  This year we continued our association with The Rembrandt Hotel as they had done such a good job last year and the year before.  This year almost all the invitations were sent by email and despite the 14% increase in suggested subscription to £48, we had a very good response; as I pointed out to one of the students, show me somewhere else in central London where you can get a three course dinner with coffee and  half a bottle of wine, plus the company of so many entomologists!

In the end we had 181 guests, 55 of whom were female, last year we only had 46 female members so we are definitely moving in the right direction, although I am still keen to get equal numbers.  My impression was that the average age of the membership is definitely decreasing which can only be a good thing.  Enough writing I think, let the photographs speak for themselves.

Jim Hardie & Clive Farrell

Jim Hardie with Clive Farrell of the Entomological Club – once again my thanks to Clive for helping man the Reception Desk

A mixed bag

A mixed bag of entomologists enjoying good conversation whilst waiting for the main course

All ex-students

All ex- or present students of mine, Katy Reed, Lauren Fuller, Jen Banfield-Zanin, Mark Ramsden, Aislinn Pearson

Andrew Salisbury holds forth

Andrew Salisbury, RHS Wisley, holds forth

 

AShleigh & Craig

Ashleigh Whiffin and Craig Perl recreate last year’s photo

Can you find the coleopterist

Can you spot the Coleopterist?

Entomologists with beer

Entomologists with beer

Garth Foster being very definite

Garth Foster making a point

Gemma & James

Gemma Hough and James Hourston

Hagrid

Did you know that Hagrid was an entomologist?  Actually Richard Comont

Helen Roy

Can you spot Helen Roy, the newest member of the Entomological Club?

Jade, Linda & Laurence

Three ex-MSc students – Jade Taylor, Linda Birkin and Laurence Livermore and Hillery Warner.

Mainly current MSc

Mainly current Harper Adams MSc students – Josh Jenkins Shaw, Chris Mackin, Andy Cutts, Aidan Thomas, Richard Prew, Kelleigh Greene, Jordan Ryder (now a PhD student) Dave Stanford-Beale

Marion Gratwick

Marion Gratwick has attended more Verrall Suppers than any other female member.

Mark, Adriana & Jen

Mark Ramsden, Adrian De Palma, Jen Banfield-Zanin, Gemma Hough

More young entomologists

More young entomologists, Ailsa McLean, Paul Manning, Chris Jeffs and James Hourston

Old and young mixing

John Badmin centre stage

Older male entomologists

Some older entomologists

Romantic!

Linda Birkin, Laurence Livermore, Hillery Warner, Aurora Sampson

Some Hymenopterists

Some hymenopterists, including Mark Shaw and Charles Godfray

Some RES worthies

Some Royal Entomological Society worthies including Gordon Port, Jim Hardie and Archie Murchie

Steve Clement & Gill van Emden

On the top table, Stephen Clement who travelled all the way from the USA, speaking to Gill van Emden

Top Table 1

The top table, Gill van Emden, Stephen Clement, Van, Clive Farrell, Chris Lyal, another overseas visitor Junhao Huang, my jacket, Camille Parmesan, Richard Harrington and Tilly Collins out of shot.

Tilly

Has Richard Harrington made Tilly Collins cry?  Are his jokes really that bad?

Sue Hartley, Hugh Loxdale, Peter Leckstein

The Verrall lecturer, Sue Hartley in deep conversation with Hugh Loxdale and Peter Leckstein.  Unfortunately she couldn’t stay for the Supper.

Young female entomologists

Not all entomologists are male and bearded, Ruth Carter, Kirsten Miller, Fran Sconce, Will Nash, Nathan Medd , Hannah Wickenden, Jasper Hubert

Young mixed entomologists

More young entomologists Joe Nunez, Ricahrd Comont, Amo Spooner, Katy Dainton, Molly Carter, Sally-Ann Spence

Older male entomologists

Some of the older entomologists

and finally

Simon stressed

The Supper Organiser looking a little bit stressed!

I look forward to seeing all of you next year on Wednesday 2nd March.

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