My take on the Next Generation Scientists 2017 meeting

As you have seen, there were a number of interesting talks given over the second New Phytologist’s Next Generation Scientists meeting back in the summer of 2017.  I was lucky to be helping there myself.  If you attended, you may have spotted me running around with a microphone while the speakers were taking questions or even seen me by my poster.  Summaries of the event are available here and here, nevertheless, here are a few of my personal highlights.

Of course, the plenary lectures were great, and a few especially chimed with my interests.  One of the first areas of plant research that I became particularly familiar with (and encouraged me to switch to plant biology while I was nearing the end of my degree) was the work looking at the molecular regulation of vernalisation.  Therefore, I was chuffed when I saw Caroline Dean would be opening the plenary lectures.  Being a stomatal researcher myself, Dominique Bergman’s talk concerning the evolution of stomata and especially her comparisons between the responses of grass and Arabidopsis stomata were eye-opening.  Furthermore, I haven’t been able to forget the synthetic work being done in June Medford’s group.  The work looking at harnessing the de-salination process in Mangrove tree roots to tackle world water scarcity problems was inspiring.

As the name suggests, the NGS conference wasn’t solely about enthusing talks from well-established academic group leaders.  It was encouraging to be at an event where the focus was on early career researchers (ECRs).  The poster sessions were a highlight for me and were great opportunity to connect with other ECRs from all over and discuss our research, and lucky for me, there was a great turn out of stomatal researchers.  I felt there was a much more inclusive relaxed atmosphere than other conferences I had recently attended, which I think led to considerably more interesting discussions.  This was evident during the two workshops that were held, ‘How to get published’ and ‘The ethics of publishing’ both of which started with interesting talks and ended with thought provoking discussions.

The meeting took place in Norwich at the John Innes Centre, which was a fitting location for a plant science conference, as not only is it one of the plant science hubs of the world but it is also surrounded by wonderful East Anglian countryside.  It being the UK there was of course some freak showers perfectly timed for the summer barbecue, however the John Innes onsite staff bar was on hand.  Overall, the conference was an enjoyable experience.

Watch all of the talks on our YouTube playlist.

Read the Meeting report: Hetherington, F. M. and Nützmann, H.-W. (2018) Embracing the next generation of plant scientists. New Phytologist 217: 504–506. doi: 10.1111/nph.14963


Ashley Pridgeon
PhD student / Editorial Assistant
New Phytologist