Here’s Victoria University-based investigator Marcus Frean reflecting on last week’s symposium:

I want to talk to Alexei Drummond about influenza, and was disappointed that I didn’t get to do so at the meeting itself, due largely to being somewhat exhausted and in recovery from said virus!  I always wondered what the idea was with using local flow information to think about how the flu virus spreads, but his talk was really clear and got me excited about what was possible. I also just find the Bayesian inference over trees story fascinating in itself, flu or no flu. It got me thinking about how so many processes or diversification come down to branching over time, leaving more or less complex artefacts behind as they go. There is always this interesting issue of how to deal with the vast number of unknown tree structures that might have given rise to them. Very cool stuff. Quentin Atkinson gave a short talk about somewhat related stuff (as far as I understand it) that I would have loved to hear more about. Wow what interesting work he does though: wish I’d talked to him about that too.

I left wanting to know more about quite a few things that came up, for example Alex James’s “phylogenetics and mutualisms” connection, Jeanette McLeod’s “navigating among trees”, Peter Davis’s full-on predictive / counter-factual-capable models, Adam’s patents, Michael’s fish… !

I found Rhian’s comment about “yay” versus “reflective” aspects of the scientific enterprise salutary (if a little awkward: I might be a serial offender).

Then – and this is technically post-symposium but anyway – on the flight home I got to thinking about ideas for looking at how barter-exchange might emerge from a more primordial system in which “tit for tat” style reciprocity is first established. Talking about this with Uli en route was great – having to put the notions into words, with him saying “no that’s nuts” at suitable moments was quite a good thing! I wanted to start coding immediately, but was by then too sleepy to function: sign of a great symposium, I reckon.