Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SciFri: GARD2022

If you read last week’s #SciFri post, you’ll know know that this time last year I was visiting Knoxville, Tennessee for the first Global Amphibian and Reptile Disease (GARD) conference. Aside from being the ideal place to network, and hear about some amazing research that other people were working on (we’ll come to that), I was also on the speaker’s list to give a talk of my own regarding my PhD research. It seems so long ago now that I was spending all that time in Norfolk chasing grass snakes, something I haven’t done for the past two summers. Back to Knoxville, GARD was held at the University of Tennessee Conference Center – the perfect place seeing as the University of Tennessee has a longstanding reputation of being on the the US’s top universities for amphibian disease research, particularly on Ranavirus.

The conference kicked off with a day full of workshops, I chose the ‘Herps & One Health’ one of these which lasted most of the day. This was a great way to slowly ease us all into things, given that a lot of us (myself included) knew very few people attending. It was great to find that common ground, and then converse with those other delegates. I wonder if it was some form of social experiment as a number of those people have become valuable friends (if they weren’t already). After the day of workshops was a further mixer at Zoo Knoxville, which I covered last week, I’m great at keeping continuity as you can probably tell! The following day, the talks kicked off including a mini-symposium on reptile diseases/parasites, where yours truly gave a talk. I was extremely interested to hear and meet Jeff Lorch, as he is one of the main ophidiomycosis researchers in North America. His insights were highly valuable, thanks Jeff!

Aside from my talk, there were a small number of others on ophidiomycosis including one delivered by Jeff Lorch

The rest of the conference mainly concerned amphibians, with talks on chytridiomycosis, ranavirosis, and a myriad of others. For those of us working in reptile disease ecology, we were certainly overshadowed but the number of amazing amphibian talks helped to demonstrate how we could strike a balance in the future, with the right funding and candidates. Overall, the trip to Knoxville was certainly worth it. I got to visit the United States for the first time, manages to interact with a number of amazing people, sampled a large number of new beer, and made some life-long friends in the process. That’s what conferences are all about, that community spirit and the sharing of ideas.

Just like every good conference, there was ample time to unwind and get to know the other conference delegates over a beer (or five)

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