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The Early Career Microbiologists’ (ECM) Forum will be hosting a summer conference for early career microbiologists to hear about research from their peers and network with other delegates. The conference will provide an introductory experience to scientific conferences for first-year PhD students, and undergraduate and masters students in a reassuring, peer-led environment, as well as the opportunity to present for the first time. Abstracts are welcome for both offered oral and poster presentations. There is also opportunity for PhD and postdoctoral researchers to present their scientific research as invited speakers, as well as learning how to chair sessions and judge poster presentations. On top of the scientific sessions, including a keynote lecture from Dr Adam Roberts packed full of career advice, delegates will experience professional development training focused on the issues that matter the most to early career microbiologists. There will be many opportunities to network so come prepared to make friends over posters, a free BBQ dinner and an evening social event. Whether it is presenting your research or advancing your networking and presentation skills, the ECM Summer Conference will provide a unique peer-led experience.

The ECM Summer Conference (#ECMConf18) is taking place at the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston B15 2TT.

Image: iStock/millann.




Lecture View

Thursday 14 June


We are delighted to announce the following speakers have been confirmed to speak at the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum Summer Conference. 

Andrew Bosworth

Job title: Trainee Clinical Microbiologist and NIHR Ph.D. Student
Place of work: Health Protection Research Unit for Emerging & Zoonotic Infections, Public Health England
Research interests: Emerging Viruses, Haemorrhagic Fever Viruses, Tropical and Imported Fevers, Viral infections of the Immunodeficient.
Main theme of talk:  Looking into the critical question of whether the recently emerged West African Makona virus variant was different from previously characterized Ebola virus variants, and discussing if these unique viruses need to change at all, when severe disease is of such benefit to their transmission.
Fun fact: I'm a very messy and chaotic cook, who uses all the pots and pans in the kitchen when preparing a meal.

Stephen Dolan

Job title: Postdoctoral Researcher
Place of work: University of Cambridge, Department of Biochemistry
Research interests: I'm broadly interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms which fungal and bacterial pathogens use to infect humans. 
Main theme of talk: The main theme of my talk is to describe how, through understanding prokaryotic central metabolism, we can design better antimicrobials.
Fun fact: I lose my wallet more regularly than I'd like to admit and once left my laptop (containing a nearly completed undergraduate dissertation) on a bus to Dublin.

© Wageningen
University and Research
Sarah Duxbury

Job title: PhD Student (new Postdoctoral Researcher)
Place of work: University of Exeter, UK (now Laboratory of Genetics, Department of Plant Sciences at Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands)
Research interests: Microbial ecology and evolution, pathogenesis, antimicrobial resistance.
Main theme of talk: Virulence and antifungal resistance of fungal human pathogenic species strains of the Candida genus.
Fun fact: Alongside scientific research, I enjoy playing the clarinet in music ensembles.

Tamsyn Hawken

Job title: Final Year ESRC funded Health Psychology PhD Student
Place of study: University of Bath
Research Interests: Psychophysiological resilience in young carers (those <18 years old caring for a family member with an illness or health condition), and Autism and the criminal justice system. 
Fun fact: My hair isn’t this long any more - after years of growing it and it becoming my trademark, in June 2017 I had the chop and donated my hair to the Little Princess Trust to raise money for charity. 

Ben Libberton

Job title: Communications Officer
Place of work: MAX IV Laboratory
Research interests: Biofilms on indwelling medical devices.
Fun fact: My hometown, Oswaldtwistle, is home to the biggest Pear Drop in the world.

Nicola Moloney

Job title: Postdoctoral research associate
Place of work: University of Cambridge, Department of Biochemistry
Research interests: Host-pathogen interactions; proteomics; metabolomics; mycology; parasitology; pathogenesis.
Main theme of talk: Studying the proteins and metabolites produced by Aspergillus fumigatus in response to iron starvation to yield targeted insight into the strategies utilised during pathogenesis.
Fun fact: I can find the best coffee and burgers in any town.

© David McGlynn
Michelle Mulcahy

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Place of work: Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity college Dublin, the University of Dublin
Research interests: Host-pathogen interactions, innate immunity, Staphylococcus aureus infection, intracellular survival and immune evasion, S. aureus nasal colonization.
Main theme of talk: The ability of the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus to survive intracellularly in human phagocytes during infection. Specifically, how S. aureus survives within human neutrophils by manipulating host cellular homeostatic processes such as autophagy.
Fun fact: I love to bake.

Caisey Pulford

Job title: PhD Student in Biological Sciences
Research interests: Bacterial Genomics, Salmonella, Tropical Diseases, Bioinformatics, Epidemiology.
Main theme of talk: The evolution of invasive Salmonella in Africa.
Fun fact: I was once chased by an elephant for three miles!

Adam Roberts

Job title: Senior Lecturer in Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and Resistance
Place of Work: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Research interests: Antimicrobial Resistance and Chemotherapy.
Main theme of talk: Collaboration and networks wrapped up in AMR.
Fun fact: I am overly fond of fire.

© Keith Grehan
Lee Sherry

Job title: Post-doctoral Researcher
Place of work: University of Leeds
Research interests: Molecular Virology and Vaccines.
Main theme of talk: Using Pichia (Yeast) to produce poliovirus virus-like particles as we move towards a post-polio world.
Fun fact: I'm a big football fan, when I'm not in the lab I'm most likely to be found watching Liverpool FC.

Jennifer Thorley

Job title: Senior Editor
Place of work: The Lancet
Research interests: Viral hepatitis, gastrointestinal infections, gut microbiota.
Main theme of talk: Careers in science/medical editing.
Fun fact: My dog made it into several national news reports when he joined us for the March for Science!

Martin Turner

Job title: Policy and Projects Manager
Place of work: UK BioIndustry Association
Research interests: My job involves developing policies that will help bioscience companies and convincing the government to adopt them. My particular areas of interest are around starting and growing science businesses, including tax, finance, technology transfer, and intellectual property.   
Fun fact: Cheese and wine make me very happy. It may not be fun for you but is for me.

© Maura Tilbury
Tara Vollmerhausen

Job title: Research Associate
Place of work: Westway Health
Research interests: Investigating novel strategies to treat biofilm-associated infections and their resistance mechanisms.
Main theme of talk: Photoinactivation.
Fun fact: I have a pet puffer fish, which is among the most poisonous animals in the world.

Abstracts & Posters


The poster abstract book can be viewed and downloaded here. Please note, no copies of this hard-copy brochure will be printed for the event.

ECM Forum Summer Conference 2018 Poster book

This document contains the full poster content and the poster numbers that have been allocated to each of the presenters.

Posters will be displayed in the Undercroft area with presentations taking place on the first day of Conference, from 17:30 to 19:00.

Those who are presenting a poster must ensure the work is presented as below. We cannot accommodate incorrectly formatted posters during the conference.

  • Poster Size: A0 size 841mm(w) x 1189mm(h) – your poster must not exceed these measurements.
  • Poster layout MUST BE portrait orientation.
  • Posters will be displayed on poster boards measuring 1m(w) x 2m(h), one to a side.
  • Posters can ONLY be fixed by Velcro (provided at conference).
  • Your poster number will be sent at least one week prior to the conference.
Poster Prizes

Two poster prizes will be awarded to the best poster presenters by:


Registration is now closed.

What's included in your registration fee?
  • A Conference programme guide
  • An introductory experience of scientific conferences in a peer-led environment
  • Scientific sessions discussing the latest research from ECM Forum members
  • Full access to scientific poster sessions
  • Keynote lecture from Dr Adam Roberts, with the opportunity to discuss research, life and careers
  • Professional development sessions tailored to those in the early stages of their microbiology careers
  • Networking over dinner and drinks on the Thursday evening, as well as tea and coffee breaks
  • Access to CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points
  • Certificate of attendance (available after the conference)
Conference rates
  Early bird rate
Available until 27 May
Full price rate
ECM Forum member £50 £60
Microbiology Society member £60 £70
Non-member £75 £85
Grants & Professional Development

Grants of up to £120 are available to support Postgraduate and Undergraduate Student and Full Concessionary Members attending the ECM Forum Summer Conference. Funds may be used as a contribution to any cost associated with attendance (for example, registration, travel, accommodation, etc).

Applicants who require support for childcare or caring costs may also apply for an additional sum of up to £500.

The closing date for applications will be 14 May 2018. Applications should be made online – please sign in to your web account and navigate to the Society Conference Grants page where a button should appear for the ECM Forum Summer Conference.


Postgraduate and Undergraduate Student and Full Concessionary Members of the Microbiology Society.

What is covered by the grant?

Grants of up to £120 are available to support the costs of attending the conference. Applicants who require support for childcare or caring costs may also apply for an additional sum of up to £500.

Awards are made on the basis that funds are sought from as many avenues as are available to the applicants and therefore are intended as a contribution to the costs of attendance.

Terms and conditions

Grants are awarded at the discretion of the Society and the decision is final.

The support of the Society should be acknowledged in any presentation. A logo will be supplied for this purpose. Grant recipients are required to complete the post-event evaluation survey.

Grant recipients who do not register or do not attend the proposed event will have their award withdrawn and if funds have been paid will be required to repay the excess funds. Recipients are advised to arrange appropriate insurance where applicable.

By accepting a grant, recipients give their approval for the Society to use this and related information in publicity and marketing communications.

Application process

Applications should be made online via Mi Society. All required supplementary material should be provided at the point of application. Full expected costs of attendance should be given in the appropriate part of the application.

Administration of awards

Grants payments will be made by bank transfer within one month of the offer being made using the details provided by members on their account. Errors in details provided may result in delayed payment of the award.

Grant recipients are responsible for their own conference registration, accommodation and travel bookings.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The ECM Forum Summer Conference has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (36 CPD credits).

Those wishing to claim CPD credits should sign a register held at the registration desk. Further information can be requested by email at [email protected].

Hints and Tips

This section gives some key tips on how to get the most out of your time at the ECM Summer Conference. There is information on presenting your work, networking, available funding and where to stay overnight.

Why should I go to a conference?

Conferences give you a chance to let everyone know how good you are, and help you get even better!


Presenting your work in the form of a poster or talk is a great way to share what you've found out with others, get fresh ideas on how you can really take your work forward, and looks great on a CV! Learning about other people’s work from their presentations can also give you extra ideas for how you can take your work forward, and helps build a broad base of knowledge. Preparing for either poster or oral presentations can be challenging, particularly if this is your first time, so here is some useful information to help you get started.

How to give a great presentation


How to... give a poster presentation


Conferences aren’t all talks and posters however; quite a lot of your time will be spent networking over coffee, meals and drinks. This can help you find out about job opportunities, give you fresh ideas, establish collaborations, and make useful contacts who may be able to help you out in the future. It takes practice to really get to grips with networking. Have a look at our top tips on how to network like a pro!

How to network like a pro

How should I apply for funding?

One key conference skill to learn is the art of obtaining conference funding. Your first port of call should be the Microbiology Society Conference Grant, which could cover some of the ECM Forum Summer Conference costs. You can apply here.

However, you should also look closer to home. Some universities will have money available for students to attend their first conference, so why not ask your favourite lecturer or Head of School if the university would be able to support your attendance? Supervisors of research projects or summer placements might also be willing to give some financial support, so be bold, but always remember to have good reason for why you want to attend this meeting in particular, and the benefits to you personally, as it’s essential to have a strong case for why you should be funded. Lucky funding-hunting!

Where should I look for accommodation?

When thinking about your accommodation options to attend a conference, proximity to the conference venue is something you should consider. The ECM Summer Conference is being held at the University of Birmingham, which is based in Edgbaston, a largely residential area just outside of Birmingham city centre. This means that it may be difficult to find accommodation in the direct vicinity of the conference venue. However, the University of Birmingham has good transportation links with the city centre, and accommodation close to the Five Ways or New Street train stations would be a very good option. Trains run from these stations direct to the university every 10 minutes, with a journey time of around 4-7 minutes. The area around New Street would be a good option for finding budget chain hotels and hostels.