Written by: Ewan McHenry, University of Aberdeen

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Trondheim from Aberdeen to take a two part, two week course in Stochastic Population Modelling and Integrated Population Modelling. The course was organised by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology as a PhD course, but also attracted participants with established research careers. I heard about in the courses section of the IRSAE website; a really useful resource! The two courses complemented my PhD project on the control of invasive American mink very well, which includes the development and exploration of a stochastic management simulation model and integrated population models to assess the recovery of vulnerable prey in response to mink removal. With that in mind I was very excited to go and take in as much as I could and hear from others working with similar methods and grateful to IRSAE for the assistance they gave getting me there!

The two weeks were very demanding and included both lectures and R-based practical work. The atmosphere was very friendly with a lot of stimulating conversation about the methods and their application. I was very impressed by the balance that was struck between improving our understanding of the nitty-gritty details and emphasising the value of application to ecological questions. I went to the workshop with a fair grounding in the topics covered, but it was really valuable for me none the less as it gave me the confidence and experience needed to use the methods in my own work unsupported. The instructors were world-leading experts in what they did and the two-part structure of the course was very complementary.

I would strongly encourage other PhD students in my position to attend the course when it is re-run. The department at NTNU is very impressive and I got a lot of meeting with the staff and students working on research there. As an added bonus the trip coincided with the largest solar flare in ten years and we got a fantastic view of the Northern lights on the last night of the course!