Early Career Microbiologists' Forum Update: ECM Forum presence at the Annual Conference

Issue: Microbes and Food

07 August 2018 article

One of the standout features of this year’s Annual Conference was the contribution made by ECM Forum members, from co-chairing to presenting. I caught up with a few of them to find out how they felt about the whole experience. 

There was a notable increase in the number of offered orals slots in comparison to previous years, opening up this opportunity to a wider selection of researchers. David Williams from the University of Dundee was selected to present his PhD research, entitled ‘Linking genotype to phenotype: inter-bacterial competition in Serratia marcescens’. 

David said that as this was his first time talking at a conference, he was “initially a little nervous about speaking, but the nerves quickly disappeared. Overall it was a really good experience, and I found it rewarding and a confidence booster.” His advice for those considering applying next year? “Go for it! Keep the talk simple with a clear structure and one or two take-home points”.

The ECM Forum co-chairing scheme was in its second year and received lots of applications and positive feedback. Justine Rudkin, the ECM Forum Irish Division Representative from University College Cork, decided to apply to be a co-chair because she is “trying to say yes to as many opportunities as possible”, putting herself out there in terms of networking and professional development as well as adding something a bit different to her CV. 

When applying, Justine recommends taking the time to consider which session is most appropriate for you, “not only in terms of the area you work in, but also which area you find most interesting. After all, you will be responsible for asking the speaker questions if the audience are feeling shy on the day.” All successful applicants were supported by a senior chair which also helps to take the pressure off. This was a scheme brought in by the ECM Forum Committee and we are hoping to see even more applications next year!

Another aspect of the Annual Conference that the Society has made big progress with is the poster sessions, in particular the prizes on offer. Imogen Johnston-Menzies from the Roslin Institute was one of the worthy winners, scooping the prize awarded by the Editors of the Society’s journal, Microbial Genomics

It was Imogen’s first time presenting her work at a conference and she enjoyed the opportunity to discuss her data with researchers from a broad spectrum of fields. She believes the key to a great poster is to “not be afraid of bright colours and white space”. She also noted that telling a story with your data is important, as is keeping the text to a minimum. 

If these positive anecdotes have inspired you and you want to know more, get in touch! We are always happy to answer any questions.

Rebecca Hall

Communications Representative, ECM Forum Executive Committee

To get in touch with the ECM Forum Executive Committee, please email us on ecm@microbiologysociety.org or tweet us using #ECMForum.