LIV.DAT attend the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science 2018 (EWASS)

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EWASS volunteers, including LIV.DAT students, on- stage in the main hall of the Arena and Conference Centre

LIV.DAT at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science 2018 (EWASS)

Both the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) and the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) were hosted this year in Liverpool. The event took place at the Liverpool Arena and Convention Centre in the first week of April and was attended by over 1500 delegates, making it the largest EWASS to date.

LIV.DAT students Alberto, Alex, Aravinda, Joaquin, Rob, Tricia and Brandon volunteered to assist the conference organisers by passing out microphones, directing presenters and registering attendees. They also took the opportunity to promote their own research and to attend sessions from prominent researchers in their field.

Since the event was primarily organised by Liverpool John Moores University, many sessions focused on the research carried out at the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI). This especially allowed the Astrophysics students an excellent opportunity to network with well respected physicists in their respective areas of interest. Noteworthy sessions included: “Unveiling the low surface brightness Universe”, “Galaxy clusters and groups across cosmic time”, “Weak and strong-lensing techniques to unveil mysteries of the Universe”, and “Relativistic Astrophysics” in memory of Stephen Hawking.

In addition to the symposia and parallel and plenary sessions, an industry exhibition and poster session was held in the lunchroom, allowing researchers to highlight ongoing research and discuss their work in a more personal environment. Several LIV.DAT students presented their work in these sessions.

Not all sessions held were intrinsically scientific in nature. As part of a diversity initiative, sessions were held on diversity and equity in science and included a talk by Clare Moody, MEP for the South West and Gibraltar. If repeated at similar events, it may be that such talks help to pave the way to greater equity and diversity in the scientific community. Outside of the conference arena, several more casual events were held. As well as the excursions showcasing the local popular, historical and scientific culture, social and networking occasions were also held throughout the week. The opening ceremony featured an artistic musical performance by ‘operation lightfoot’, creating visual representations of the research undertaken at the ARI and audio clips of the students explaining their love of Astrophysics.

Liverpool's iconic Anglican Cathedral hosted the conference dinner, which featured TV personality and impressionist Jon Culshaw presenting the Royal Astronomy Society awards, followed by a gourmet take on some classic English dishes. The conference ended the following day with closing remarks from the chair of the organising committee, Matt Darnley, and representatives from the European Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. The event was an enjoyable, informative and worthwhile experience for all those involved.