Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum Update: Communications, conferences and careers

Issue: Metabolism, Health and Disease

07 May 2019 article

April marked the third Annual Conference since the formation of the Early Career Microbiologists’ (ECM) Forum. Year on year, the contributions made by early career researchers to the event become more evident. We saw ECMs continuing to play an active role in all aspects of the week, from running the pre-conference networking event to co-chairing many of the sessions. There was also a noticeable increase in the number of offered oral slots across the event, highlighting the effort made by the Microbiology Society to provide a platform for early career researchers to present their work.

I wanted to use this update to promote two fantastic opportunities that the Society offers early career microbiologists. The first is particularly timely. Elections for positions on the ECM Forum Executive Committee open on 3 June, so do keep an eye on the Society’s website and social media platforms if you are interested in having your say in how the views of ECMs are represented.

One position that is becoming available is my role as Communications Representative. It is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in science communication, developing their writing skills or learning more about how the Society communicates with its members and the public. In this role, I sit on the Communications Committee and help to highlight the viewpoint of early career researchers. The position also involves becoming a member of the Microbiology Today Editorial Board, allowing you to put forward your suggestions for the quarterly themes and authors. It is a great insight into how the Society runs its communications platforms.

The second opportunity that I wanted to highlight is the return of the ECM Forum Summer Conference, scheduled for 20–21 June at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. This is back for its second instalment after the inaugural event in 2018 and promises to be even better this year. The Conferences and Division Representatives have worked hard to implement the feedback given by the delegates and I think it now embodies the aims of the ECM Forum more than ever.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event is Senga Robertson-Albertyn from the University of Dundee, UK. Senga won the 2018 Microbiology Outreach Prize for her public engagement event ‘Microbe Motels: How to Make a Healthy Poo’. It was a real treat to see her demonstrate the activity at the Society Showcase last September – it is an inspired creation. Senga’s communication skills and the story behind how she got involved in outreach will make for an excellent talk at the Summer Conference.

The Summer Conference will host invited speakers who will present across a range of microbiology topics. There will also be a careers session that the ECM Forum Conferences Representative Alison MacFadyen believes will be highly beneficial to the attendees, due to the array of different backgrounds included. The panel will include representatives from the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBiolC), Pint of Science and West Cork Distillers. If you are considering a career outside of academia or just want to learn more about the jobs available to early career microbiologists, then this is not to be missed.

As always, please feel free to get in touch with us with any comments or suggestions. I am particularly happy to answer any questions about running for my role on the committee; I really could not recommend it enough.

Rebecca Hall

ECM Forum Communications Representative