Thomas Couvreur and I organize the Macroevolution in Montpellier (MiM) group.
What? Macroevolution is defined as the study of evolution above the species level, mainly related to fields such as evolutionary biology, paleontology, biogeography, diversification analyses and comparative methods. These fields rely, in part, on our ability to reconstruct phylogenetic trees. Macroevolution is a highly dynamic field with new methods, ideas and frameworks emerging regularly. Montpellier has a fair number of researchers and students working on macroevolution, but to date little interaction exist between researchers and labs.
Objective of MiM: to promote the study of macroevolution in Montpellier via mutual exchanges between researchers and especially students. We seek to create a local and open platform of exchanges where researchers and students can present, discuss and debate papers/ideas as well as communicate new techniques and methods. MiM would ultimately led to the elaboration of new projects, foster new ideas and enhance new collaborations between researchers in from different fields across macroevolution.
When and how? The idea behind MiM is to have “hassle free” full day meetings every 3-4 months (i.e. longer meetings but fewer times a year), thus on a regular basis but not too often. We think that having a meeting every 3-4 months would be a great start. If the need is high this can be every 2 months. A typical 1-day meeting could have (1) a seminar on a hot topic with the invitation of a keynote speaker (local or not), (2) workshop around a new approach (demonstration and practice), (3) an “extended” journal club (e.g. a review of methods in a given field, important new article), (4) “open mic”: present a major problem/question/concern a student/researcher has during his/her research; (5) discuss new projects that may arise in the community.
Where? In a meeting room of a given lab (could also be a computer room if workshops are organized). For convenience, we would rotate the meeting place each time in a different lab (e.g. University, IRD Agropolis, Campus de Baillarguet). For ease we would plan a sandwich lunch (people bring their own lunch).
Who? In Montpellier, the community working on macroevolution is not yet very extensive and often hidden. So at the beginning, we expect the meeting will probably gather a handful of researchers and their students. But as time goes and the group builds up, we expect to grow and have meetings on a regular basis with 10-20 people. Basically everyone interested in macroevolution (phylogenetists, palaeontologists, systematists) are welcome.