Biosystematics, informatics and genomics of the big 4 insect groups: training tomorrow's researchers and entrepreneurs

BIG4 Fall Workshop in Sweden, 10 -19 Oct 2016 - By Janina Lisa Kypke

Between 10-19 October 2016 all BIG4 students, supervisors and a number of outside participants got together again for a workshop on phylogenetics, phylogenomics, citizen science and entrepreneurship, as well as for the mid-term meeting. This time the workshop was organized by Fredrik Ronquist and his ‘three wise men’: the BIG4 PhD fellows Daniel Marquina, Erik Gobbo and Miroslav Valan. They had the outstanding idea to place the workshop at Tovetorp Research Station, approximately 90km southwest of Stockholm between Gnesta and Nyköping, where we could enjoy the autumn colors of the forest surrounding us and see pheasants and deer strolling around the field station while dining.
During the workshop we were introduced to Bayesian phylogenetic inference, Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation, different dating methods and how to use MrBayes and  RevBayes. We also learned about metabarcoding, including an exercise where we designed primers, basic commands to handle bioinformatics data in a unix environment as well as de-novo genome sequencing, assemblies and how this information can be used for phylogenetic inference. The second part of the workshop covered the areas of entrepreneurship and citizen science where we could benefit from the experience of a number of invited speakers that were successful in these fields. We discussed the process of having an idea to selling a final product, failures and successes and even got to brainstorm about our own ideas.
The mid-term meeting took place on Friday and gave every BIG4 fellow the opportunity to talk about his/her own projects. It was the first time our newest member Anne-Sarah Ganske and her co-supervisor Gregory Edgecombe could introduce themselves and her project. Welcome to our network! For this special day EU Officers were listening in to evaluate our network and individual progress.
While we covered a lot of different topics during these 10 days, there was still a lot of time to socialize, discuss (e.g. how to become a successful scientist), and to make plans on how our network can become even stronger in the next years to come - no doubt that the idyllic landscape, the sauna, the outdoor hot-tub, volleyball -and floorball filed and last, but not least, the delicious food have made their positive contribution to that!
Our thanks go to Fred and his three wise men for organizing this wonderful workshop and for teaching us, to all invited speakers for sharing their knowledge and expertise with us and to the staff at the field station who made sure that we lacked in nothing. 

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