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British Ecological Society Annual Meeting

Univ Tin Hang Hung Travel ReportGraduate Old Members’ Trust Travel Report Tin Hang (Henry) Hung, DPhil Radcliffe Scholar in Plant Sciences

I presented a poster titled “Fantastic seeds and where to plant them: Ensuring germplasm diversity and adaptability for sustainable production and genetic conservation of Dalbergia cochinchinensis and D. oliveri in the Greater Mekong Subregion” at the British Ecological Society (BES) Annual Meeting 2019 in Belfast. The Annual Meeting is considered the largest annual meeting of ecologists and attracted more than 1,300 delegates this year. The Meeting’s theme this year is “Celebrating Global Ecology” – and I am thrilled to present my work on rosewood conservation in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Rosewoods are the world’s most illegally trafficked wild product, due to increasing demand of its luxury timber. Oxford has joined forces with Bioversity International and the governments of Lao, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam to conserve and restore two flagship species D. cochinchinensis and D. oliveri in the natural landscape. There is also a growing concern on incorporating scientific evidence in conservation decisions and germplasm management. In this Meeting, I presented the latest outputs of this collaboration, namely their species distribution models and reference transcriptomes. These tools will facilitate species monitoring and genetic studies. I also presented the next stage of the project, which is a landscape genomics study to correlate the gene-environment association in these species. We hope to better understand the adaptive potential of these species in the changing environment, and to guide their germplasm management.

Besides presenting my work, I enjoyed so much the plenaries and other presenters. I was particularly inspired by a plenary speaker, Esther Ngumbi. She said, “Science is not done until you communicate it.” If we shut our doors and only focus on our own work, there is little hope we can get new insights to solve the challenging questions in this new era. We have to step outside, listen to others, and exchange ideas. In the meanwhile, it is an inconvenient truth that there is a big gap between the academia and the public, so coined the term “ivory towers”. I believe it is our responsibility to let the world know about the new knowledge we are generating every day and transform the society.

I was very honoured to be appointed to the Meetings Committee of the Society, where my fellow committee members and I will develop strategies and review for all scientific events within the Society, including the Annual Meeting, Symposia, and events proposed by Special Interest Groups. I will remain humble and endeavour to serve the community of ecologists.

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