Issue: What is life?

10 May 2016 article

MT Aug 2015 news

Focused Meetings 2016

Focused Meeting 2016 – Irish Division: Host–Pathogen Interactions
30 June–1 July
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Focused Meeting 2016: Molecular Biology of Archaea 5
1–3 August
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Focused Meeting 2016 – Irish Division: Exploring the Microbe–Immune System Interface
1–2 September
Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork, Ireland

Focused Meeting 2016: The Dynamic Fungus
5–7 September
Mercure Exeter Rougemont Hotel, Exeter, UK

Focused Meeting 2016: Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Avian Viruses
27–29 September
Charles Darwin House, London, UK

New subject category for Microbiology

The Society’s journal Microbiology has recently introduced a new biotechnology subject category and article submissions are now invited in this area. The journal has appointed two new Editors to cover the topic: Dr Louise Horsfall and Professor Saul Purton. To find out more about the journal and how to submit your paper, go to

MT May16 news research councils

Small World Initiative – Research Councils help to search for new antibiotics

In Autumn 2015, Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Director of Science at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and Dr Simon Kerley, Head of Terrestrial Sciences at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), joined in the Society’s search for new antibiotics as part of the Small World Initiative. They kindly collected a soil sample from the grounds of Polaris House in Swindon, home to the seven UK Research Councils including the BBSRC and NERC, which was sent to the University of East Anglia for analysis. It joined samples from our Citizen Science pop-up events from last summer, a sample from 10 Downing Street and a sample from the Arena and Convention Centre Liverpool, collected by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool to celebrate the Society’s 2016 Annual Conference in March.


It is with regret the Society notes the deaths of the following members.

Professor Craig Pringle, who joined the Society in 1961.
Mr Peter J. James, who joined the Society in 1965.

Please contact [email protected] if you wish to notify the Society of the death of a member whose details can be included in this section.

Athena SWAN Biosciences Best Practice event

MT May 16 news athena swan

In December last year, the Society led the organisation of the first Athena SWAN Biosciences Best Practice workshop, in partnership with the Royal Society of Biology, Biochemical Society, British Ecological Society and Society for Experimental Biology.

The workshop, held at the headquarters for all the named societies, Charles Darwin House in London, brought together staff from university bioscience departments that have received, or are applying for, Athena SWAN Awards. The Awards recognise commitment to tackle gender inequality in higher education. Delegates listened to inspiring talks from Dr Rachel Simmonds (University of Surrey) and Professor Jane Hill (University of York), who shared advice from their own departments’ successful applications for awards. Sarah Fink from the Equality Challenge Unit, which runs the Athena SWAN scheme, ran workshop sessions on how to collect and present data to support applications. The workshop was chaired by Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, former President of the Microbiology Society and current Equality and Diversity External Advisor.

This event came about as part of the work the Microbiology Society has been carrying out to embed equality and diversity across all of its activities. Alongside monitoring and collecting of data, the Society now has an Equality and Diversity Ambassador on Council and on each of its committees, who come together to share best practice and review collected data.

Useful best practice information from the Athena SWAN workshop, including speaker interviews, slides and other resources, and further information about our equality and diversity activities, can be accessed on our website. For more information, please contact the Society’s Policy team.

Nominations for Prize Lectures has re-opened

Following our diversity check, the Society has re-opened the nominations process to encourage broader representation of the microbiology community. The Society is supportive of Equality and Diversity issues and encourages members to consider the widest talent pool available when submitting nominations.

We are accepting nominations for the 2017 Peter Wildy Prize, Marjory Stephenson Prize, Unilever Colworth Prize and Fleming Prize, and for the 2018 Microbiology Society Prize Medal.

The deadline for nominations is now Friday 29 July. Full information can be found on the Society website.

Society quoted in parliamentary report on Ebola

In January, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published the findings from their inquiry Science in emergencies: UK lessons from Ebola. The report criticised systematic delays in the UK’s response to the epidemic and lack of ‘research readiness’, and made recommendations to improve UK preparedness for future disease emergencies at home and abroad. The report quoted issues and recommendations made in written evidence that was submitted by the Microbiology Society and the Society for Applied Microbiology, which was drafted in consultation with members involved in the Ebola response and infectious disease research.

Human Fungal Diseases policy briefing

The Society’s latest policy briefing Human Fungal Diseases was published in March. The briefing, which was informed by experts working in medical mycology, highlights the overlooked burden of these diseases and issues relating to diagnostics, antifungal drugs, research and public health surveillance. The briefing has been sent to UK and Irish parliamentarians and policy-makers, but is also useful as an education resource. The fungal diseases briefing, and our past briefings, can be downloaded on our website. Contact our Policy Officer, Paul Richards, for further information about the Society’s briefings and how to help with our policy work.

MT May 16 news vof2016

Voice of the Future 2016

Voice of the Future 2016 took place at the Houses of Parliament in March. Science and engineering students and early career researchers took the seats of a Parliamentary Committee and grilled prominent witnesses about science policy, including the Government Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport and MPs from the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee. The Microbiology Society was represented by members Andy Day, Rachel Edgar, Benjamin Johns and Rebecca McHugh. Andy and Rebecca asked questions about science funding and government preparedness for disease emergencies to Jo Johnson MP, the Minister for Universities and Science, and Labour’s Shadow Science Minister, Yvonne Fovargue MP, respectively. The event was organised by the Royal Society of Biology and hosted by the Science and Technology Committee. You can read about Rachel’s experience on the Society blog, Microbe Post.

Grant deadlines




1 June 2016

Travel Grants

For conferences and courses from 1 July onwards*

6 June 2016

Society Conference Grants

Inclusion Grant

Undergraduate Student Conference Grant

For support to attend the Focused Meetings on Molecular Biology of Archaea 5, and Host–Pathogen Interactions

4 July 2016

Society Conference Grants

Inclusion Grant

Undergraduate Student Conference Grant

For support to attend the Irish Division Meeting on the Human Microbiome

1 August 2016

Society Conference Grants

Inclusion Grant

Undergraduate Student Conference Grant

For support to attend the Focused Meeting on Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Avian Viruses


Local Microbiology Event Sponsorship
All members can apply for funds to support microbiology-related events, e.g. sponsored talks.

*Please note, you do not need to have received confirmation of abstract acceptance to apply for these grants as conditional offers will be made. In this case, evidence of acceptance is required to claim your grant.

Elections for Council, Committees and Divisions

The Society elections for Council, Committee and Division members will launch later this month. If you are an Honorary, Full, Full Concessionary or Postgraduate Student Member then you have a right to vote on who represents the membership on these bodies.

Candidate information and the electronic ballot will open on 23 May. You will receive an email to your registered member email address from Electoral Reform Services, who will administer the process.

Contributions and feedback

The Society welcomes contributions and feedback from members. Please contact [email protected] with ideas.


Head of Communications
[email protected]

Image: Professor Melanie Welham and Dr Simon Kerley at Polaris House. Nancy Mendoza. First Athena SWAN Biosciences Best Practice workshop at Charles Darwin House. Microbiology Society. Voice of the Future 2016 meeting. Royal Society of Biology..