M&M 2019 – Portland
It’s the last week of July and I’m excited! Why? Because it’s the week before Microscopy & Microanalysis, the MSA’s annual meeting, and this year it’s in Portland!
The city of Portland, Oregon is a firm favourite in the hearts and minds of M&M regulars for any number of reasons, including the good weather, good food (and drink) and the fabulous convention center. Seriously, the city just oozes a welcome to visitors from its great transport links to the airport to the effort put in by Travel Portland. The city is easy to get around with plenty of transport (if you don’t walk) including the MAX light rail, streetcar and bus system. Founded in 1851, the city of Portland is clearly one of the later places in the US to be settled, but the people here seem to have a ‘can do’ attitude and nowhere is this more evident in their rich brewing culture and history. An annual beer festival held in July and somewhere in the region of 75 breweries means that this is the place to explore your ale, porter or pilsner.
Food is another attraction to the city, and the food cart culture is a highlight of the city, offering many different cuisines, great authentic food and good prices. This shouldn’t mean that you overlook the mainstream restaurants or desert, including the famous Voodoo Donut (just remember your cash).
The city is a multicultural city, as you might expect, this is reflected in the people that call it home Accordingly, the city also has a number of neighbourhoods, which offer a variety of things to do and explore depending on your taste and interests, I’d definitely recommend you take a look around the interactive map. Of course what you’re all here for is the lowdown on the meetings itself aren’t you? Well here goes.
A lot has changed since 2015, when M&M was last in Portland, including the award of another Nobel Prize to scientists in our field. In 2014 we had celebrated the award for the invention of super-resolution microscopy (Betzig, Hell and Moerner) and three years later in 2017 Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson were awarded the Nobel for ‘for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”. There can be no doubt that their contribution to the ‘resolution revolution’ is immense and that the cryo-EM community had seen huge interest from commercial partners in the form of the hardware and interested sectors including big pharma. I think that generally there has also been an acceptance of cryo-EM from the materials community, with an increased interest from this group into what they might learn from colleagues particularly in the areas of radiation damage and low-dosc imaging techniques. This is particularly true in the area of in situ microscopy (mostly liquid sample TEM) where dose to sample are key factors in influencing the sample. In recognition of this the 2019 M&M organising committee have dedicated both the opening plenaries to Frank and Henderson who will offer their insight and experiences into what I’m sure have been quite the journey in their careers. I should of course also mention that we’ve also had another microscopy related Nobel in 2018, in the form of Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland for their work on optical tweezers and high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses, so who know maybe they’ll turn up on the plenary roster next year.
The main reasons many people go (other than the plenaries) are for the overwhelming parallel scientific sessions. I’ve included the link to the session descriptions, but it’s clearly a bonanza of fabulous science with something for everyone. The other reason we all love to go is the exhibition space, where we can see the latest hardware from the vendors, attend demonstrations, learn, discuss and ‘talk shop’ with our peers over a coffee, lemonade, iced tea or beer as we attend the poster session that happen every day!!
Truly, I implore you, if you’re not already going, reconsider! If you’re a student, make sure you get in touch with the MSA student council who are a bunch of welcoming enthusiastic microscopists who will steer you right, especially if you’re new to M&M.
All that remains is for me to include the link to the event guide, which has much more information than I could possibly summarise and also a link to the main M&M page, which has a very nice video giving a flavour of the city. I hope I see some of you there!
Microscopy and Analysis