I attended the International Symposium on the Biology of Actinomycetes (ISBA) between the 19th and 23rd June at the University of Toronto. This was the second ISBA meeting I have attended during my career, and these meeting are always a great way to meet new people in my field, learn about the latest developments in my research area and gain new ideas on how best to continue my own research. At this meeting, there were multiple sessions that were directly relevant to my current research area such as ‘Biosynthetic Gene Clusters and Bioinformatics’, ‘Regulation’ and the ‘Biotechnology and Industrial Applications’ session that I delivered my oral presentation in. However, I also found the ‘New Developments in Actinobacterial Biology’ session particularly interesting, and the talks in this session gave me lots of new ideas of ways to approach my own research using techniques I hadn’t previously considered. Furthermore, there were several inspirational keynote speakers who presented fantastic work and discussed their own career journeys through academia which was very encouraging to hear as an early career researcher.
The poster sessions provided me with opportunities to meet with other researchers in the field and discuss a range of topics. In particular, I met with several researchers from the University of Denmark who are developing tools for CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in Actinomycetes. I frequently use CRISPR/Cas in my own research, so discussing our findings and new developments that will be coming from their lab was very useful and I intend to maintain these contacts going forward so that we can share results with each other more regularly. In addition, these poster sessions allowed me to reconnect with researchers from the international community who I had not been able to keep contact with during the pandemic and hear about the latest developments in their work. This helps create a wider sense of community within our research area which is hugely valuable, especially as an early career researcher. Furthermore, I was able to maintain connections with more senior researchers and group leaders who have provided advice and mentorship to me as I begin to develop my own independent research career.
Presenting my work at ISBA in an oral presentation was an excellent opportunity because I was able to share my research with an international audience. This is helpful as an early career researcher because it helps establish myself in the field and gives me the opportunity to receive feedback on my work.
I received lots of helpful tips and new ideas to help progress my research projects on return to the lab. As a result of meeting people at ISBA, I am already getting new opportunities for continued career development, for example, an invitation to review a manuscript which will be good experience for me as reviewing opportunities for early career scientists can be limited. I also have lots of ideas for potential collaborations that could be established going forward now that I have these new contacts within the field. The support from Applied Microbiology International in the form of a Scientific Conference Abstract Scholarship is hugely appreciated and will allow me to attend more similar events as I continue in my post-doctoral position.