Keeping up with the literature and scientific discussions with colleagues in order to develop new ideas and projects and to reflect on old ones are important parts in the academic daily routines. The FEZ group runs together with colleagues from the SERG and EPA research groups at the Natural History Museum a weekly seminar series that takes up topical scientific publications, questions and issues. However, it is not only a forum for discussions, the social aspects of such group-wide get togethers are also important for creating an inspiring working environment, in particular for early-career scientists such as Master students and PhD fellows.
In 2022, we had an impressive 39 seminars with all seminar participants presenting a couple of times interesting publications. It is usually up to the presenter to select the topic and the publication; doing so makes sure that a broad variety of topics is covered as all participants have their individual preferences and ‘hot topics’. These included morphological and genetic species differentiation, species communities and ecosystems, evolutionary processes, climate change challenges, ancient DNA methodology and museomics, and biodiversity conservation to mention a few (the detailed seminar programme can be followed at https://www.frontiersinevolutionaryzoology.com/copia-de-opportunities). An intensively discussed topic was ‘De-extinction’, meaning the idea of re-generating an organism or species that either is or comes close to an extinct one. While this may be an interesting and fascinating scientific vision the seminar discussions also focussed on the ethical issues of such suggestions.
After the end of the corona restrictions also the FEZ group seminar could return to physical meetings. While zoom meeting were a suitable option for running seminars during the pandemic we noticed that discussions in physical meetings are more lively and inspiring. Nevertheless, we kept the option of joining the seminar remotely via zoom in order to keep continuity for those that were not able to come to the physical meetings due to external activities such as fieldwork or home-office.
While the scientific discussions are the focus of the seminar, there is also a need for some additional effort to organize the events. In 2022 Marianne Nilsen Haugen, Rita M. Austin and James F. Fleming did an excellent job in keeping the seminar going – their input is highly appreciated and acknowledged.
The 2023 seminar series has already started, and we are looking forward to another year of inspiring discussions. And don’t forget: guests are always welcome !!!