On Tuesday 5th of July 2022, in collaboration with the Young Scientist Career Development session, FABRE TP hosted a networking event at the WCGALP 2022 in Rotterdam. The session was full of interesting presentations and discussions about the diversity of speakers at previous WCGALP editions and opportunities for young scientists. Inspiring experiences in the sector were shared with the audience. EFFAB and FABRE TP role was explained too ; and the importance of responsible and balanced breeding.
The first part of the session was moderated by Jo Newton. Alison Van Eenennaam presented an interesting history and author analysis on the participation of scientists in WCGALP from the last 48 years. From 1974 to 2018, the number of papers presented at the WCGALP tripled with the percentage of woman author increasing from 0% in the first conference to 32% of women authors in 2018. The most published woman as author, co-author, or contributor (15 papers) in WCGALP was Daniele Lourenco, associated professor at the University of Georgia. With the increasing number of women participating, we are slowly moving towards a more balanced gender representation in the animal breeding and genetics community – big win!
Right after; we also got interesting insight from Peter Amer of Abacus Bio on what does the industry needs from young scientists. He pointed on the importance of developing multi-disciplinary skills, on broadening knowledge and taking weaknesses as space for progress. And to join his statements, we were lucky enough to have a group of young scientists who are active in the scientific community both as academia and as working professionals. They shared interesting tips on the different ways to be successful in whatever career path one chose. They also discussed about atypical career path changing. One of the key messages for young scientists was to be focused and to take every opportunity because all of them are opportunities to learn and grow and to take mistakes as an opportunity to improve.
With a panel of 4 successful scientists, we managed to have an interactive conversation on the challenges, opportunities and solutions in career development with the public. The attendees got insight on the different pathways that are possible for them in the future, in academia or on the job market. The different questions from the public focused on four main points: overqualification when choosing a Ph.D., changes in career focus, opportunities for low-income third countries, the emotional and social intelligence in the job market and last but not least John Hickeys' podcast and book recommendations.
Craig Lewis introduced the FABRE TP part of the session and presented the different current focus and the goals of EFFAB and FABRE TP; and the team working behind the scenes. He also discussed on the importance of responsible and balanced breeding before he left the floor to Egbert Knol and Pieter Knap.
Pieter Knap and Egbert Knol took us on a relay journey "through eighty years of commercial pig breeding". Together they provided an insight into the different trends in technology, IT, breeding goals, and genetic improvement that have passed during their careers; 40 years twice.
It was great to see visualised the big leaps that have been made, moving from statistics-driven to biology-driven technology. And moreover, we really should appreciate the serious shrinkage of computer size… Breeding goals have also evolved over time, where traits with lower heritability become increasingly important.
As for genetic improvement, Knap & Knol showed us their proudest accomplishments: improved piglet survival implemented in balanced breeding programs and increased knowledge on the growth and energy metabolism of pigs, allowing for selection. At the end of the relay, the baton was put in our hands: how will we contribute to the big challenges ahead?
We would like to thank Hugo Toledo, Ross Houston, Nadine Buys, Mirjam Spoelstra, Clotilde Patry, María Martínez, John Cole, Katie Olson, and Katrijn Peeters, who participated in the Young Scientists Career Development. We know it was difficult to convey important messages in such a small time slot. Still, you all gave it your all, and we are very grateful for your time and investment. We can absolutely say that it was a successful session with 170 attendees passionately discussing exciting and important topics, and we can happily confirm that it was more than the after-session drinks.