Vickie Thomas-McArthur shares here experience as an attendee of this year’s FELASA conference.
I was slightly nervous in the run up to attending FELASA 2022. It was to be my first conference on such a large scale, my first conference since the start of Covid and my first time travelling alone to a foreign country. Luckily I was attending the conference with colleagues, one of whom is very experienced with large conferences and my travel went smoothly.
The night before the conference we met up with fellow zebrafish people at a Zebrafish Husbandry Association (ZHA) event. This was a brilliant way to start the week as I met up with people I knew from other conferences and events and chatting to them over some food and drink helped me to relax and settle the nerves about the conference.
I found the timetable for the conference a little confusing, both on the app and the website, I spoke to numerous people who felt the same. Once I had got my head around it it was actually fairly simple to follow. Due to the number of sessions in a day, and the number of different talks/workshops within a session, I would definitely recommend sitting down and working out which talks and sessions you want to attend in advance, especially as some have restricted numbers on a first come first served basis. The conference was spread over a few rooms across two buildings so becoming familiar with the map provided is also a good idea.
There were two sessions with a focus on aquatic animals, mostly zebrafish. This was useful as I didn’t need to be in two places at once and/or sit through other talks that would not be as relevant to me. The fish talks were very informative, some of the information was completely new and some was progress on information I had heard before. I also enjoyed and gained knowledge and ideas from presentations on animal care, communication between different roles involved in animal care/research and updates on EU Guidance.
I spent most of the time between the talks at the ZHA stand where I helped introduce people to the association as well as talking to people from within the zebrafish community. This time was, to me, as useful as the presentations and talks. We discussed new technology that was available, how we had adapted old technology, new and improved husbandry methods and reconnected or developed new working relationships and potential collaborations/sharing of information. Zebrafish husbandry and methods are not standardised to the same level as that of other animal models and so communication between facilities and working groups is essential to improve this.
There were many supplier stands, mostly aimed at mammals but there were some that were relevant to zebrafish including new products that our facility wasn’t aware of but are interested in. I only spotted some of these stands on the third day so it is definitely worth walking round the stands more than once to be sure of not missing anything.
Overall I found the conference very enjoyable and informative, although I would have liked there to have been more zebrafish based talks.