An update from an almost Insect Doctor
It is quite surprising how fast the PhD journey runs… Or at least this is how I feel, ESR12, as I am officially into the last year of my PhD.
I have recently returned from a 14 month stay in Denmark with the Section for Organismal Biology at PLEN of the University of Copenhagen. This was an opportunity to explore the role of the microbiota in the immune response to entomopathogenic fungi. I worked with a research group which is highly knowledgeable about insect-associated fungi and its use in biological control as well as its role in insect diseases, so it was great to explore another aspect, the interaction of the microbiota and immune response to host fitness against the fungi. It was a challenge at first to move to another lab, in another country, and set up the research system once again. This move presented some challenges which I now appreciate as another education unto itself.
Outside of the lab, I have been able to attend some conferences and meetings. Most notably the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, which I joined the organizing team during the final stages of preparing the meeting to assist the local organizing committee and scientific programme committee.
I also attended the Insects to Feed the World conference in Quebec City, Canada, which was a conference heavily attended by industry specialists from North American insect mass rearing companies, and was a great opportunity to share our European Insect Doctors program to a more global audience. This conference also served as an important tool to learn more about the practical needs of the industry as well as what is viewed as the future of insects as food and feed.
Within the Insect Doctors group, we have been able to finally meet in person for a few of the courses, which has also provided deeper collaboration within the network. In April of 2022 we travelled to Portugal to learn more about mixed-stressor models with researchers from the UKCEH, and are currently working on an article about mixed stressors and how to accurately predict and monitor these in insect mass-rearing.
In October we travelled to Spain for a network meeting, which came at an important time for many of the PhDs who have recently started their final year. This was an opportunity to discuss our research thus far and receive some valuable feedback from the consortium.
I am currently back in France, at the INRAE lab where I started my PhD and will remain here for the final few months apart from a short visit to Protifarm in the Netherlands.