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Seminars share knowledge with the global genomics research community

Beautiful view of the night sky with the Milky Way. New Zealand

Genomics Aotearoa’s Friday seminar series has blossomed, from a good idea that linked our researchers during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, to growing a Aotearoa New Zealand genomics community. 

“The series has become a firm fixture in the genomics events calendar, where researchers want to invite overseas colleagues to contribute and participate, are volunteering to speak or organise a seminar. We enjoy a steady stream of enquiries”, says Claire Grant, Communications Manager. 

The audience comes from more than 50 organisations, including universities and research institutes both here and overseas, service providers and schools. They include researchers, technicians, managers, policy makers, students, lecturers, health care providers and business development representatives. 

Most seminars are recorded and uploaded to our Genomics Aotearoa YouTube channel; the international presenters are a major drawcard. 

Genomics Aotearoa Co-Director Peter Dearden said there is wide-ranging value gained from hosting the hour-long seminars online on a Friday afternoon. “We have created a genuine sharing community that is supporting our work in growing genomics capacity and capability.” 

Peter has managed some great discussions and questions over the last three years. “It’s been encouraging to see so many people quiz the speaker about their work and use the opportunity to discuss their own approaches with peers. It’s gone from being a welcome contact between researchers from different institutions during the COVID-19 lockdown, to having an enduring forum open to anyone involved in genomics and bioinformatics; it’s been heartening to see cross disciplinary networks forming."

The seminars from international speakers have proved invaluable for Genomics Aotearoa to connect with overseas researchers. 

Former Genomics Aotearoa postdoctoral fellow Ann McCartney had been working on the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium in the United States and has organised several international seminars. “Working with Genomics Aotearoa, I had world class training in the production of high-quality reference genomes in a way that recognises, respects, and includes the rights of Māori. The seminar series provides a unique opportunity for international research collaborators to share and receive feedback on their research,” Ann said. 

Early career researchers also appreciate they have a comfortable and supportive environment to present in, as Michael Hoggard from the Environmental Microbiomes project found. “The seminar series is a great opportunity to present work to an audience of leaders and peers in the genomics community. It’s also an important way to break down research silos and facilitate interaction, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among groups with similar research interests,” he said.

View the upcoming seminars schedule here