On 21st March, the fourth Exploring Research in Cornwall (ERIC) Postgraduate Research Conference was held at the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), Penryn Campus. ERIC is an annual event supported by the Doctoral College but organised by a postgraduate researcher committee.

ERIC hopes to celebrate the quality and diversity of research across the University of Exeter and allows early-stage researchers to attend and become more familiar with a conference environment. It is also an opportunity for PGRs to deliver a talk or present a poster on their research. This year’s themes were: Creative Methods, Changing Worlds and Understanding Nature.

We were delighted to be able to hold ERIC in the ESI and welcomed Professor Juliet Osbourne, Director of the ESI and Chair in Applied Ecology for Exeter University to deliver an opening speech. Ten students then presented talks on their research throughout the day and the breaks provided an opportunity to network and browse the posters. It was fantastic to be able to accommodate talks and posters from students across diverse disciplines, from politics and geology to the Life Sciences.

We also welcomed two keynote speakers from the University. Dr Frank van Veen, Associate professor of ecology and conservation provided an insight into his research on conservation and tourism in Kruger National Park and illustrated how the research from the Cornwall Campus is far-reaching and helping to answer important questions internationally.

Professor David Hosken, an evolutionary biologist and Dean of Strategic Development of the Cornwall Campuses also explained his work on sexual phenotypes, and particularly those associated with sexual selection and sexual conflict. To close the day, David presented his ‘top tips’ for early researchers, including, perhaps most importantly, ‘enjoy it’!

The prize for the best poster was awarded to Mel Weedon: Effects of parental ageing on offspring body mass trajectories in wild European badgers.

The runner up for best poster was Silu Lin: An evolutionary explanation to fertility decline.

The prize for the best talk was awarded to Emma Lou: The home-ranging behaviour of reintroduced orangutans.

The runner up for best talk was Beki Hooper: Killer whales, yellow slime and spa trips: using leftover DNA to elucidate ecologically relevant information.

Overall, the day was a great success and we hope that ERIC can be held again next year. Thank you to all our speakers and to the students who attended or participated and to Sean Meadon and Katie Shanks for acting as judges and providing great feedback on student talks and posters.

Special thanks to Dr Chris Wood and the wider Doctoral College team for their support throughout. Thank you also to the ESI team for allowing us to hold the event in the ESI and their help in making the event a success.

ERIC Committee: Alexandra Gardner (Chair), Ben Phillips, David Sünderhoff, Shari Mang, Thomas Pownall, Angela Hayward, Amina Ghezal, Rachael Smith and Emily Carter.