CSAW Research Day

14 05 2016

DAW00008-Marian-DawkinsCSAW Research Day was on Wednesday: a packed marathon which I didn’t 100% enjoy (well I did, but mainly when I bunked off the talks to chat to people).

The problem (albeit definitely a First World One) is that the Campbell Centre is just too successful, with over 40 graduate students. If we allow as many of these to speak as possible, the result is a dense array of presentations with little time for questions. Talk by talk, this can work: I presented 8 years’ work in 4 minutes for example, and seemed to pull it off; and Andrea (below left) and Maria (below right) gave great 10 minute lectures on their projects. However, overall it made for a rather overwhelming day.

Luckily the plenary was an inspired choice: Marian Dawkins. She spoke about animal consciousness with her usual wit and clarity, and for the first time I really ‘got’ that she both thinks consciousness is crucial for animal welfare (we should not worry about plant welfare for example: assumed sentience is a prerequisite for concern) and yet not something welfare scientists should get side-tracked by (because so empirically intractable).

As well as her lecture being great, Jonathan and I got to have her round for supper (where she seduced Sylvie by totally ignoring her: amazing), and I had lunch with her the next day too – just lovely to catch up. Slide1