European Plant Science Retreat 2019:

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Published on: July 15, 2019

University of Nottingham, July 8th-10th 2019

By Sophie Mogg, University of Manchester. @Mini_Moggy

The European Plant Science Retreat is an annual event hosted by PhD students for PhD students.

The fact that this event was orchestrated by my own peers was simply amazing and a feat not to be sniffed at.  As any PhD student knows, sometimes walking into those big society-led conferences can be daunting and even more so when you want to approach those in your field.

However, at the EPSR, it was a level playing field allowing for a more easy-going approach to networking – especially as those we were talking to could be potential collaborators in the near future.

The Organising Team!

The three days of proudly presented research was arranged in a series of talks and poster sessions to open the floor to like-minded students. Somewhat unusually only a few hours over the whole conference was dedicated to more experienced keynote speakers. This for me is what made the conference. Both new and more experienced PhD students were able to interact, share ideas and advice and feel free to ask questions that otherwise might not have been asked in a more ‘serious’ setting.

The keynote speakers themselves made quite the contribution, sharing with us their journey from being PhD students to their current revered positions! It was important for us to learn that each journey was DIFFERENT. What stuck with me was that there was no necessity to jump ship to another country, or even publish a single paper, in order to gain a post doc position.

Therefore as long as you persevere, remained passionate and show your worth, many doors will remain open for your future! It was great to hear their love for science in their voices as they told their tales.


Speaking with others at the conference, my experience wasn’t unique and I didn’t hear a single negative comment, no doubt owing to the great organisation and planning done by the EPSR2019 team.

Sadly, this was my first and only European Plant Science Retreat, but I hope that the tradition continues for many years, allowing students from across Europe to practice their networking skills, present their research and have a all round great experience at a conference designed especially for them.

Jason and Marty, part of the EPSR2019 team, offered words of wisdom for the 2020 organising team. They highlighted that although it may seem like a giant undertaking, especially in terms of sourcing funding from sponsors, that the entire team had improved their organisation and team-work skill sets, giving them invaluable experience that they will undoubtedly make use of in the future.

Finally they advised to keep it light and enjoy it! Because how often do you get to organise a conference?

Meeting attendees in the University of Nottingham Millennium Garden
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