15th DSBS Travel Award Report – Lissette Victorero



by Lissette Victorero

National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

This past September, I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Monterey Bay in California to participate in the 15th Deep-Sea Biology Symposium. This was possible due to the generous support of the Deep-Sea Biology Society and the Challenger Society, who funded my travel and expenses for the week. Having just handed in my PhD thesis a week earlier this felt like an amazing reward, which was a much needed change of scenery from the soul-crushing write up stage.

Morning view of the Monterey Bay.

The meeting was well organised with an action-filled agenda ranging from talks and posters to other social agendas, such as a student mixer and a delicious BBQ, with the aims of getting everyone networking and having fun. Each day was typically kicked off with an interesting set of plenary talks, in which I am sure there was something for everyone, followed by an array of topical sessions. I gave a talk on the first day titled “Ecological communities and drivers of biodiversity within the transverse ridge of the Vema Fracture Zone”, and I received useful questions and feedback prior to submitting this work for publication. One of the weeks highlights was that the conference had also secured free entrance to the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium for the whole week, which of course made us marine folk all so happy. And the fun didn’t stop there, we actually got to enjoy a candle-lit dinner in the aquarium after-hours. It truly was a unique experience, dining next to the Open sea tank and watching all that charismatic megafauna go about their business.

Jellyfish in the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

What I enjoyed about this meeting, was getting to meet so many friendly people who share a common passion for deep-sea science and conservation. In addition, I also met some scientists with whom I have worked with, even skyped, but had never met face to face. Also, both times I have been to the symposium I have had a great chance to hang out with fellow deep-sea students from the National Oceanography Centre, whom I weirdly don’t get to see much when at the institution. Come to think of it, maybe they are just avoiding me?!

Dr Michelle Taylor (left) and myself (right) holding our DSBS awards (Dive Deeper Research Bursary and 15th DSBS Travel Award, respectively).

All in all, Monterey Bay provided the perfect setting for this conference, with its great weather and abundance of friendly locals. Many whom I met through the week all wondered what I was doing there – to which I would reply “Oh I’m attending a conference about the deep-sea” and then they would say (everytime!) “Monterey Bay is an excellent location to study marine biology”. Well that was exactly what I got to do; study and submerge into deep-sea biology for a whole week gaining exposure to many topics outside my particular field.  Thank you Deep-Sea Biology Society for enabling this experience and providing me and other students with great memories, inspiration and motivation for future deep-sea studies. See you in 2021 in Japan for the next one!

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