Christine Zarges, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK

Two of the main assets of SPECIES are EvoStar and the SPECIES scholarships. Both are of vital importance for the community in Europe and beyond. I would like to see both continue to blossom and put a strong emphasis on widening participation.

EvoCOP 2020 and 2021 were both run as online conferences and as one of the conference chairs I could see first hand that this can be a chance to attract a wider audience and enable participation for researchers who struggle to participate in person. Based on my experience with online conferences (EvoCOP 2020, 2021; GECCO 2020) and hybrid conferences (PPSN 2020) I would like to contribute to an evolution of EvoStar that helps to widen participation without sacrificing the irrefutable benefits of in person real-world events.

SPECIES should continue to play an important role in supporting early career researchers and integrating them into the wider research community. The SPECIES scholarships are just one important tool in this context and I would like to see the introduction of more such activities in the future. The introduction of training schools or other networking events for early career researchers is one attractive option. I have been SPECIES Scholarship Chair since their introduction in 2020 and I would very much like to continue this role if elected to the board.