Plastid Preview 2018 as it happened!

The Conference Plastid Preview 2018 was held at the Lancaster Conference Centre, Lancaster University, on the 3rd-4th September, and it was a great success! There were 60 attendees, bringing together researchers from 13 universities in the UK, as well as one from the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. We had 50 early career researchers (ECRs), 7 PIs and representatives from 3 organisations (New Phytologist, ASPB, Li-Cor Biosciences). The programme consisted of 20 talks and 18 posters supplemented with flash talks, all of which described great research and were presented to a very high standard. Prizes of £50 each were awarded to the Best Poster (Charlotte Walker, University of York) and Best Talk (Laura Wey, University of Cambridge), as judged by the PIs attending the conference.

This meeting has always been an excellent opportunity for ECRs to meet and foster networks with their peers and some senior scientists. This year, additional effort was made to ensure that all the attending ECRs had the opportunity to contribute actively to the meeting. We invited ECRs to chair the 6 seminar sessions. Mary Williams (ASPB) and Mike Whitfield (New Phytologist) gave talks on how ECRs can best promote themselves and their science, including running an excellent and fun interactive activity. We asked delegates to provide feedback on the meeting and 40 people responded through a quick online survey. Please see the graphs below for a summary:

A wide range of topics covering plastid biology research were showcased throughout the meeting:

  • Gas-exchange measurement and crop photosynthesis (Rakesh Tiwari, Leeds; Alexandra Burgess, Nottingham)
  • Using natural variation to improve photosynthesis (Gustaf Degen, Lancaster; Lorna McAusland, Nottingham; Cristina Sales, Lancaster)
  • Plastid biogenesis and evolution (Rona Costello, Oxford; Monika Gajecka, Silesia)
  • Retrograde signalling (Jon Griffin, Lancaster; Robyn Phillips, Cambridge)
  • Carbon concentrating mechanisms (Conor Simpson, Cambridge; Nicky Atkinson, Edinburgh; Indu Santhanagopalan, Cambridge)
  • Chloroplast biotechnology (Panupon Khumsupan, Edinburgh; Ravendran Vasudevan, Edinburgh; Henry Taunt, UCL; Laura Wey, Cambridge)
  • Chloroplast protein import (Sabri Mohd Ali, Oxford; Robert Sowden, Oxford)

We promoted the meeting on Twitter through the hashtag #plastidpreview2018, tweeting ourselves, with help from Ali Birkett, our department’s official tweeter, and encouraging participants to use the hashtag during the meeting. We reached over 100,000 impressions through 210 posts by 45 different users. People as far away as Australia, India, Chile and Brazil interacted with these tweets.

The conference dinner was held at Barker House Farm, Cartmel College, Lancaster University. It was a very enjoyable and lively evening with plenty of enthusiastic scientific discussions, and a great opportunity to develop relationships with fellow researchers in the field. This conference has once again proven to be particularly important for post-graduate students and young researchers to gain confidence in presenting their work and to start building those long-lasting and vital research networks.

This meeting was made possible thanks to our generous sponsors and supporters: Phyconet, The Company of Biologists, Society for Experimental Biology, New Phytologist, Li-Cor, N8 AgriFood and Gatsby.

With thanks to all who made it all happen,

Elizabete Carmo-Silva, Doug Orr, Mike Page, Rhiannon Page


Plastid Preview 2018 attendees.


Plastid Preview 2018 conference dinner.


Plastid Preview 2018 poster session.


Plastid Preview 2018 awardees of Best Poster (Charlotte Walker, University of York) and Best Talk (Laura Wey, University of Cambridge).


PhD students during interactive session at Plastid Preview 2018.


Start of Plastid Preview 2018 seminar – with thanks to our sponsors and supporters!