XV Cell Wall Meeting 2019

by Sam Amsbury, University of Leeds

In July I attended the XV Cell wall meeting hosted at the University of Cambridge. This was my first time at this meeting, held once every three years, and I was excited to meet so many members of the cell wall research community.

The meeting kicked off on the Sunday with a reception in the beautiful botanic gardens at Cambridge which provided an informal atmosphere to meet other delegates which contributed to a relaxed atmosphere in the sessions. The organising committee did an excellent job in putting together an extensive scientific programme with almost 90 talks and 170 posters to showcase a diversity of cell wall research areas and I felt very privileged to be selected to give a talk.

The Welcome Party. https://cellwall2019.org/

The talks were grouped by different research themes and were full of exciting science with lots of cutting edge unpublished research on display which was great to see. With no parallel sessions I was able to attend all the talks and was particularly interested in the composition, structure and architecture sessions where I learnt about a range of emerging new tools for studying cell wall structure which I hope to incorporate into my future work. I presented my work on the second day and this was my first talk at a major conference, an experience I found both daunting but incredibly valuable. Getting the chance to present my research led to a number of interesting conversations in the coffee/lunch breaks throughout the week both with new people and old collaborators which gave me a valuable different perspective on my data.

It was nice to see sessions specifically focused around equality and diversity and research ethics and it was great that these sessions were about as full as the other sessions. The talk of Professor Dame Athene Donald DBE, FRS was a particular highlight and I would encourage everyone to read her excellent blog (http://occamstypewriter.org/athenedonald/). Putting these issues at the heart of a conference raises their profile and helps to make everyone aware of how we can ensure a diverse and ethical community and all the associated benefits that brings.

Professor Donald provides an inspiration talk. Photo @donohoho

One of the excellent aspects of this meeting was how much time was dedicated to viewing the numerous posters making them an integral part of the meeting. This gave people the chance to engage with as many people as possible and I spoke to a wide range of people during these sessions making new contacts that will hopefully remain contacts as I progress through my career.

Networking is an important part of the Cell Wall meeting. Photo @meninatoxica

It was a pleasure to attend such an interesting meeting and meet so many excellent cell wall researchers. On the back of this meeting I have already embarked upon a new and exciting collaboration and I would like to thank GARNet for the travel grant to help me be able to afford to attend. I am already looking forward to the 2022 meeting in Malaga, Spain.

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