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Aphids galore, les pucerons à gogo – UK-France Joint Meeting on Aphids – April 3rd to 5th 2019

The giant aphid – a fitting start to an aphid conference, albeit taxonomically suspect 😊

I have just returned from a very enjoyable two-day meeting at Rothamsted Research Station in Harpenden.  This was a follow-up to the very enjoyable meeting we had in Paris in 2015 which made me ask somewhat facetiously, if pea aphids ruled the world 😊 As with the Paris meeting, this recent meeting was jointly organised by Jean-Christophe Simon and Richard Harrington with some input by me.  There were ninety delegates, and not just from France and the UK; we had a keynote speaker from Japan, Tsutomu Tsuchida, and also speakers from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland.

Tsumato Tsuchida, me, Richard Harrington, Julie Jaquiéry, Jean-Christophe Simon and Richard Blackman.

Our other three keynote speakers included two of the doyens of the aphid world, Roger Blackman and Helmut van Emden   and Julie Jaquiéry from the University of Rennes.  As with the Paris meeting, many of the talks were about the pea aphid and symbionts.  Other aphids did, however, get mentioned, including my favourite aphid, Rhopaloisphum padi, which featured in an excellent talk by PhD student Amma Simon from Rothamsted, who is supervised by one of my former students, Gia Aradottir.  There was an excellent poster session, a tribute to the late great, Ole Heie from Mariusz Kanturski, a fabulous film by Urs Wyss, which included shocking scenes of lime aphids being torn apart by vicious predators, and of course the conference dinner.

It would take too long to describe all the talks, so I will let the pictures tell the story of a very enjoyable meeting.  Hopefully we will all meet again in France in 2023.

Great talks and a packed lecture theatre

Food and chat

Very animated poster sessions

Three senior aphidologists in action,  Helmut Van Emden, Hugh Loxdale and Roger Blackman

Richard Harrington presenting Roger Blackman and ‘Van’ van Emden with the Award of the Golden Aphid – the lighting in the conference dining area was very peculiar 😊

Strange lighting at the conference dinner

From the Urs Wyss film– lime aphid moulting

The giant aphid having a quick snack

And in case you wondered, there were embryos inside the giant aphid 🙂

Many thanks to the Royal Entomological Society and BAPOA/INRA for funding.

And here are most of the delegates on the final day

Aphid SIG 2019

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The Verrall Supper 2016 – even better than last year

The first Wednesday of March has for many years meant only one thing to many UK entomologists – the Verrall Supper. I have written about the Verrall Supper previously on more than one occasion, so this will be largely a photographic record.

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Van (Professor Helmut Van Emden) ready and set for the arriving Verrallers

This year’s Verrall Supper took place on Wednesday March 3rd at The Rembrandt Hotel, South Kensington. This year we had a further increase in numbers attending the meal at the Rembrandt Hotel, 190 compared with the 181 the previous year.  We are now facing a bit of a dilemma, we have reached the maximum number that the Rembrandt can accommodate and as the general consensus is that it is a great venue, I am reluctant to try and find an alternative venue, but equally I don’t want to restrict membership.  According to Van, the number of Verrallers making merry, once topped the 300 mark.

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Marion Gratwick possibly the longest-serving Verraller, certainly the longest serving female member, although her claim to have attended 58 Verrall Suppers has been called into question as the first female was not admitted to the Supper until 1962; the arithmetic does not add up 🙂

Unfortunately, despite my ambition to get a 50:50 sex ratio, we still only managed to attract 55 female guests, the same as last year, which as we had a slight increase in total numbers meant that female members only accounted for  29% of the Verrallers.  I must try even harder next year.  For those interested in such statistics, we had twenty vegetarians, four diners unable to cope with gluten and only two vegans.  The average age, has, I am sure gone down, as I felt that the of number of those sporting grey or white beards, bald pates and grey hair were definitely outnumbered by the younger generation.

It was, as usual, great to see so many of my ex-MSc Entomology students, from both incarnations of the course, Silwood Park and Harper Adams University, many now doing PhDs, and many post-PhD and in their turn teaching future generations.

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A new generation of bearded entomologists. Alex Greenslade and Andy Salisbury, both former  MSc students,  one now doing a PhD, the other Senior Entomologist at RHS Wisley and both modelling entomological ties.

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Charlie Rose, the youngest Verraller (possibly ever).

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Professor Helmut Van Emden and Chris Lyal both of the Entomological Club.

 

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The Verrall Supper organiser at the start of the evening, with Alex Austin, Sarah Arnold, Jennifer Wickens (I think, I have an excuse, she is one of identical twins, both entomologists) and Denise Gibbons.

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Linda Birkin (fomer MSc student, now PhD at Sussex) and Ailsa McLean, Oxford University.

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Max Barclay, the Verrall Lecturer.

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High Loxdale savouring his pint.

 

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Mark Ramsden (ADAS) former PhD student and Chris Jeffs (Oxford), former MRes student.

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Tracie Evans (former MSc student) and Van Emden Bursary winner and Victoria Burton

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Charlie Rose, with current and former Harper Adams University MSc students, Alice Mockford, Jenna Shaw, Scott Dwyer and Jordan Ryder.

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The venue – ready and waiting and full house

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Gordon Port and former MSc student, Anna Platoni

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James Broom (former MSc student) and Roy Bateman who taught on the course for many years

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One view of the top table.

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Charles Godfray being lectured to by Tilly Collins 🙂

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Not all grey beards and bald pates

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Royal Entomological Society worthies, Archie Murchie, Jim Hardie and Debbie Wright

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Ruth Carter (MSc student at Harper Adams, who first contacted me when she was 13 to ask how to become an entomologist, Gia Aradottir (former PhD student, now at Rothamsted) and Amoret Whitaker, forensic entomologist on the right (I was her PhD examiner).

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Richard Comont and Sally-Ann Spence

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Former MSc students from Harper Adams University, Molly McTaggart, Josh Jenkins Shaw and Dave Stanford-Beale, all on the PhD route, UK, Denmark and USA respectively.

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More former Harper Adams University MSc students, Aidan Thomas and Kelleigh Greene.

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Sally-Ann Spence, Katy Dainton (former MSc student, now at Forest Research), Jo Nunez (former MSc student, now at the Bat Conservation Trust) and Mike Wilson.

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Current MSc students at Harper Adams University, Harry Simpson, Ben Clunie and Iain Place

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Mike Shaw, a Hymenopterist deep in thought?

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Tom and Soo-ok Miller all the way from the USA and if you are wondering about the bead necklaces that some of us are wearing, they came via Soo-ok.

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Mike Copland, Sue Stickels (both Wye Bugs) and Ashleigh Whiffin (former MSc student, now at Edinburgh Museum).

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Richard Lane (Entomological Club) and Luke Tilley, Royal Entomological Society Outreach Officer)

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Van (now with beads)  helping Kristi Thomas (former MSc student with her statistics)

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Ceri Watkins (former MSc student) and Hagrid (alias Richard Comont)

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Alan Dewar and Beulah Garner

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Tilly Collins (one of my former PhD students) writing my mid-dinner speech!

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John Whittaker and Claire Ozanne

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Claudia Watts, me (now with beads) and Roy Bateman

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Keith Walters (Harper Adams University) and Mike Singer (Plymouth)

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Ana Platoni and Adriana De Palma (both former students)

 

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Two curious gold weights – I can’t remember who showed them to me

 

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Harper Adams students, past and present

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Ruth Carter, Harry Simpson, Molly McTaggart, Scott Dwyer and Christina Faulder, all from Harper Adams.

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Two of my current PhD students at opposite ends of their degree, Fran Sconce and Aidan Thomas.

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Richard Harrington with his suction trap tie, retirement does funny things to people 🙂

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Hayley Jones and her butterfly necklace.

All in all, a very pleasant occasion which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the pre-function nerves.   I look forward to hosting the Verrall Supper 2017, and am determined to get a 50:50 sex ratio!

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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

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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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