MMC2015 Meeting Report

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Manchester once again played host to the Microscience Microscopy Conference (MMC) and it was jam packed with high quality science and cutting edge innovations in exhibition and the scientific sessions. This year’s meeting saw the inclusion of EMAG, which gave the event a nicely rounded feel of both physical and life sciences themes as well as instrumental development sessions. The conference itself attracted nearly 1400 attendees. Approximately half were conference attendees and half exhibition, showing just what a massive part of the experience the trade exhibition is at MMC (there were in excess of 100 companies exhibiting) and that it continues to pull in day visitors who enjoy the chance to catch up with industry experts and see their latest releases. Of the attendees the majority were from the UK (72%) with 11% coming from the EU, around half from academic or research institutes. Bernadette Delaney was snapping the whole event and served up a huge selection of memorable photos that the RMS has put on their website, I've used a few here. I really suggest that you take a look and see if you can see yourself!

Prior to the event officially opening there were a series of workshops covering OMERO, image J, AFM and EELS. I attended the cross-disciplinary meeting where issues faced by life science and materials science research were discussed, these ranged from replacing instrumentation, training of future microscopists, and most prominently, careers for microscopists.

Dirk van Dyck enthusiastically revealing how he turned 2D information into 3D

The event opened with plenary speakers Prof Jackie Hunter (BBSRC) and Prof Dirk van Dyck (Antwerp), both of whom were passionate and insightful. Jackie Hunter informed the audience about the initiatives that the BBSRC has been investing in and the networking activities that it is supporting including the BioImaging UK groups who are encouraging a bottom up approach to facilities organisation and the support of microscopy in the life sciences. There was also mention of the genotype to phenotype and form to function approaches that the BBSRC supports across research areas of which microscopy is a big part.  Dirk van Dyck was introduced by Prof Rik Brydon who gave some of his fascinating history before the man himself had us spellbound with his description of using atomic columns as lenses and turning 2D TEM images into 3D by the use of focal (phase) series. Tuesday morning’s plenary was Petra Schwille (Max Plank, Munich) who asked the question ‘what is life?’ Prof Schwille then proceeded to show the audience the investigation of the protein ‘Min D’, which regulates cell division in E. Coli and outlined that the use of microscopy was applied to cell division studies. Wednesday we were treated to the story of Gallium Nitride semiconductors and their crucial role in the development of LED technology by Sir Colin Humphries (Cambridge). Sir Colin showed us how Transmission EM and atom probe microscopy were essential to understanding the importance of the defects in InGaN and why it works in spite of them. He then went on to outline how the development of SiC based wafers will lead to cheaper LED production and both power and cost savings for the country. There were two plenaries on Thursday, the first by Dr Max Haider (CEOS GmbH), who spoke on the topic of advanced instrumentation for high resolution microscopy, in which he discussed the continuing development of Cs and Cc corrected TEM/STEM instruments.  The second plenary on Thursday afternoon was a masterclass in super-resolution microscopy from Prof Xiaowei Zhuang (Harvard), who took us on a whirlwind of exploration in the development of the techniques from the various hurdles initially faced to the triumphant successes of the various approaches that enable modern light microscopy techniques to ‘close the gap’ on the resolution of electron microscopy. Overall the plenaries were what we’ve to come to expect from MMC, with often standing room only. All the plenary speakers were awarded honorary fellowships of the RMS, meaning that they got to sign the famous ‘red book’.


Delegates relax and browse the posters, which were all of a very interesting and high quality

In addition to the plenary speakers, the scientific part of the event was as good and varied as usual, with 6 parallel sessions on a wide variety of topics, bolstered by the inclusion of many EMAG sessions. Each session had oral presentations and a poster session over the course of the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoon.  There were over 250 posters on display throughout the event and at the end of session prizes were awarded (first and second) in the areas of life and physical sciences. Prizes were also awarded for AFM/SPM and EMAG sessions.  In addition to the prize money and a year’s free RMS membership, each of the winners has been offered the chance to write an article for M&A.  The full list of winners was:

EMAG Session 1

1st prize Xuan Cheng, University of New South Wales - Role of interface in resistive switching of NiO nanocrystals on SrTi03

2nd Prize Alexander Marsden, University of Warwick - Correlating Crystal Structure and mobility of vanadylpthalocyanine thin films on graphene

EMAG Session 2

1st prize Eva Mortsell, Norweigian University of Science and Technology - TEM and HAADF-STEM investigations on the effect of Ag-Cu-Ge additions on precipitation in 6xxx Aluminium Alloys

2nd prize Annick de Backer, University of Antwerp - Quantitative Annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy for nano-particle atom counting: What are the limits?

Life Sciences Tuesday Poster Session: 1

1st prize Raveen Tank, University of Sheffield - Using STORM Force microscopy for understanding how bacteria grow and die

2nd Prize Helen Miller, University of York - Super-resolution DNA imaging with intercalating and minor groove binding dyes

Life Sciences Wednesday Poster Session: 2

1st prize Justin Aluko, King’s College London - SIMPLI: single-molecule programmable lifetime imaging

2nd Prize Lidia Sonakowska, University of Silesia  - The structure of midgut in the larvae of freshwater shrimp Neocaridina heteropoda

Physical Sciences Tuesday Poster Session  1

1st prize Anders Aufderhorst-Roberts, University of Leeds - AFM reveals mechanics, structure and growth of three coexisting lipid phases

2nd Prize Dawn Wood, University of Warwick - Quantitative mapping of electrical and mechanical properties via direct calculation of tip-surface contact area in C-AFM

Physical Sciences Wednesday Poster Session  2

1st prize Laura Clark, University of Antwerp - Symmetry-constrained electron vortex propagation

2nd Prize Michael Mousley, University of York - Design and production of C shaped structured illumination with controlled opening angle

There was a real buzz around the venue and plenty of networking over coffee, drinks, or at the meals that were organised for the Frontiers in Bioimaging, SPM, and EMAG evening events. Besides this, there was the return of a dedicated FIB-EM prep meeting and the first meeting of EM-UK, the new network for the electron microscopy community in the UK, which took place on the Wednesday. Another very popular part of the conference was the International Micrograph competition. There were so many very intriguing and altogether stunning images but the judges finally decided on the following awards:

Electron Microscopy Life Sciences

1st – Mighty Mites SEM Image – Steve Gschmeissner

2nd – Contact – Yuan-Chih Chang, Sikl Yu Lin, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Electron Microscopy Physical Sciences

1st – Titanium ‘Boulder Field’ – Paul Gunning, Smith & Nephew Research Centre

2nd – Micro-tree of MAPbI3 perovskite – Kunwu Fu, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Light Microscopy Life Sciences

1st – Phantom Midge (Chaoborus) larva – David Linstead

2nd – Chloroplast – Eva Wegel, John Innes Centre

Light Microscopy Physical Sciences

1st – A view across a CCD – Kevin Smith

2nd – A thin polymer film patterned with – Claire Trease, Kingston University

Scanning Probe Microscopy

1st – Supramolecular Nanoring Network – Alex Summerfield, University of Nottingham

2nd – Human Tooth Enamel – Dipesh Khanal, University of Sydney

Short Video

1st – The Zebrafish Cardiovascular System – Michael Weber

2nd – Zebrafish Development – Gopi Shah, MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

In addition to the poster prizes and the micrograph competition there were a whole range of RMS medal presentations made as part of the new RMS medal series.

These were awarded to:

     RMS Medal for Light Microscopy awarded to Dr Susan Cox, Kings College London

     RMS President's Medal awarded to Dr Chris Hammond, University of Leeds

     RMS Vice-Presidents' Medal awarded to Kim Findlay, John Innes Centre

     RMS Medal for Scanning Probe Microscopy awarded to Dr Sergei Kalinin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

     RMS Medal for Life Science awarded to Dr John Briggs, European Molecular Biology Laboratory

     Pearse Prize awarded to Professor Xiaowei Zhuang, Harvard University

Not to be overlooked were the social events at the meeting, which included banquets for the SPM, Frontiers in BioImaging and EMAG, but also the conference banquet, which was held in the Midland Hotel on Wednesday 1st. The event was preceded by a drinks reception in the foyer on what was the hottest day of the year so far, where Pimms and champagne was gladly received. Before the meal there were presentations from the president and co-chairs of a number of the above awards and three EMS outstanding papers, before thanks for the RMS office staff for all their hard work.  The food followed quickly after and the meal was tasty and well-presented before this formal part of the evening gave way to the resident DJ and much dancing!

With the final plenary over we all said ‘see you in two years’ and those who had seen things to the end slowly dispersed to catch trains or planes, still jubilant after such a great meeting!

Peter O’Toole, MMC2015 Life Sciences Chair had the following to say:

“You can see the younger delegates being inspired as their eyes are opened to how big a work microscopy really is. You could see the senior Profs also going around networking and working the politics to help their next grant or to push their agenda.

At the same time, everyone was hearing about new exciting science, technologies and applications which help educate, inform and inspire everyone who attends.

The exhibition was massive, and again provided much of the tools to help forge future direction of peoples science which can go on to make a fundamental difference to everyone's future.  As the next drug is found, the next low energy light bulb (well LED) is pioneered, the next super-crop developed to help feed the world, microscopy will have played an essential role, which is why mmc2015 is not only important to ourselves, but to the UK economy and well-being and the world as a whole.”

MMC2017 takes place from 2-6 July 2017 in Manchester so be sure to put in your diaries.

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