Comparative Genomics of Non-Model Invertebrates

IGNITE's 1st Network Wide Training Event (Split, Croatia)

The first IGNITE Network-Training Event (NTE) took place at the Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences (MedILS) in Split, Croatia from 26.08.2018 to 05.09.2018. The event provided the first opportunity to gather all the participants of IGNITE, Principal Investigators (Pis), Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and collaborators.

In total 11 ESR were able to attend the first summer school. The meeting marked the beginning of multiple training events that will take place as part of the IGNITE program. After an introduction of the IGNITE program by the main PI, Gert Wöerheide, the rest of the event focused on the acquisition of basic knowledge in marine biology and comparative genomics. A combination of lectures and practical hands-on experience provided a base knowledge to all the participants. As part of the activities, the ESRs had the opportunity to collect samples (i.e. planktons and sea organisms) and then performed molecular biology experiments instructed by some of the PIs.

A series of lectures were presented by PIs and external scientists, in which they outlined the main challenges in the field of and the importance of the IGNITE program in advancing such field. Also, the lectures presented an opportunity for the PIs to talk about their expertise and other research that are ongoing in their labs. These lectures and interactions were quite instructive for the ESRs, who were able to discuss with each and all present PIs to gain more insight and their perspective on invertebrate genomics.

Another key aspect of the summer school was to introduce ESRs to each other and the PIs. Prior to this event, students had scarce information about all the projects involved in IGNITE and how they could collaborate with each other in their research. Furthermore, the ESRs organized their own session, where each one presented their past research experiences, skills and pastimes activities. This session event highlighted how diverse the ESRs are, and how they form a complementary group. Informal discussions were additionally useful to get critics and suggestions on the current projects and future collaborations. For the next schedule IGNITE school in Rennes, the ESRs will present their progress in their projects. This will allow having discussion and suggestions between the ESRs. Also, it will be an opportunity to learn about the projects of the ESRs who were not present at first school.

In the last days of the event, ESRs got training on complementary skills like teamwork, communication, diversity and time management. This course was taught by a Psychologist from the LMU which make each topic in an interactive and practical way. Furthermore, there was a team building exercise that proved to be very important to know each other.

In conclusion, this meeting was an excellent learning experience for the ESRs. It showed that the IGNITE project gathered students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The group of ESRs are committed to enhancing knowledge of non-model invertebrates organisms through Comparative Genomics. Also, to show their ecological and evolutionary importance, as well as their biotechnological potential.

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