Regional Taxonomy and Ecology Conference 2015

Four students and a research assistant from Environmental and Life Sciences Programme participated in the 2nd Regional Taxonomy and Ecology Conference 2015 (TEC2015) organized by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), which was held from 1-2 December 2015 at the Royal Margherita Hotel in Kuching, Sarawak. Two papers on aluminium accumulation in tropical trees and Acacia invasion in Brunei Darussalam were selected by the organizer for oral presentations and three papers (tree diversities in the white sands and Kerangas forests, and effects of Acacia invasion on photosynthetic capacities of invasive and native species) for poster presentation. More than 90 participants, comprising of mostly PhD, MSc and BSc students, presented their research projects in this event. The conference was also attended by several prominent international and regional experts in taxonomy and ecology, government and non-government policy makers, planners and relevant stakeholders. Different research projects from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Indonesia were shared through oral and poster presentations. This conference provided a platform for researchers to showcase their respective work and discuss the current challenges pertaining to the issues related to biodiversity conservation, biodiversity crisis and taxonomic impediments within the Southeast Asian region. The conference also encourages participants to update themselves on the regional research, methods, tools, analyses that apply to both taxonomy and ecological research. This conference also aims to promote research collaborations amongst scientist working on similar projects in the region. 

Students’ testimonials:
Throughout the 2-day conference, we managed to attend 28 oral sessions on taxonomy, biodiversity, conservation and ecology of plants and 4 plenary sessions. We had the opportunity to meet and share our thoughts with researchers and students who have the same interests as us. Mostly students from UNIMAS participated in the conference, and we had the chance to talk to them about heath forests and our other work.

A lot of new knowledge was gained especially through the perspectives of taxonomists and ecologists that we did not get in a traditional classroom. We became more aware of the field taxonomy and the challenges faced by the local taxonomists. We also noted down interesting projects related to biodiversity, ecology and conservation, as well as the different methods used in their projects which will benefit us in designing methodologies for our own future master research. 

Overall the TEC2015 was indeed a very good exposure for all of us. Alhamdulillah, we are thankful for the opportunities given to participate in this conference. We highly encourage our fellow students and colleagues to participate in any regional conference, so that they will gain more insights on the type of research conducted and methodologies used in the region. Lastly during the closing ceremony, Faten Saman received an award for one of the best poster presentations during TEC2015. Article by: Siti Faten Su’aidah Saman, Siti Hadijah Haji Haji