Travel Story: Jessica Laurence – PhD Candidate

Jessica Laurence from the Robinson Research Institute’s Placental Development Group attended three consecutive conferences in Perth during April: Fetal and Neonatal workshop (FNW), Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) conference and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) conference.

Jessica’s abstract was accepted at the FNW as an oral presentation on the topic: Vitamin D and IGF family gene expression in human first trimester and term placentae

Jessica said the following about her experience:

Q. What was the highlight of the conference?

The highlight was the writing a scientific manuscript workshop run by Professor Kurt Albertine and organised by PSANZ. Kurt is the editor of the Anatomical Review and has extensive experience in publishing. We discussed grammar, ethics and publishing, and shared our own writing – which was critiqued by the group.

Q. Did you meet with any collaborators?

I visited Professor Jeffrey Keelen from the University of Western Australia who has collaborated with my supervisor Professor Claire Roberts on the SCOPE project. He has extensive experience in preterm birth research and provided very useful comments and suggestions after I presented the work from my PhD. I also toured his lab and met his lab group including his post-doc Demelza Ireland who is working on some interesting projects.

Additionally I met Mary Wlodek – president of the DOHaD society, Lesley McCowan – Head of the SCOPE Consortium and Philip Baker – Director of the Gravida Network in New Zealand.

Q. How will the experience support you and your research?

The experience was hugely valuable as I was able to network with other researchers, present my findings, tour other labs, and learn more about current research into obstetrics and paediatrics. Additionally, I met researchers that I may be able to collaborate with later in my career.

Q. What was the most exciting thing you learned at the conference?

I learned about a very intuitive project involving an Aboriginal community, which used a scientific study in conjunction with social and cultural support to investigate renal health.

Q. What was the most unexpected moment of your travel?

It would have to be the surprise presentation at the DOHAD conference from a voice coach who showed us how to confidently present to a crowd. The presentation included retaining good posture and tone of voice. At the end we were singing songs from The Sound of Music to demonstrate voice projection.

Q. What was the most uncomfortable moment of your travel?

When we arrived at our accommodation in Perth we didn’t have a room as the motel had given our room away. We waited for half an hour in the dark while they figured out the mistake and luckily put us in another room.

Q. Would you recommend this experience?

I would definitely recommend this experience to my colleagues as the Fetal and Neonatal workshop is a great opportunity to share new research in a small group of reproductive scientists, usually in a lovely location.

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