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UK Society for Extracellular Vesicles conference

Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund Report – Serena Qiao (2022, Interdisciplinary Bioscience (BBSRC DTP))

I applied for the Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund in order to attend the annual meeting of the UK Extracellular Vesicles Society in Edinburgh, which had been postponed from the scheduled date in 2020 due to COVID-19. This was a three-day conference (1-3 December) at which UK labs presented research relating to EVs, including presentations, poster sessions and many opportunities to engage with speakers during the event. This was the first conference I have attended, and I was excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the field and create opportunities for collaboration with leading researchers.

As a student on the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP, I am currently taking part in training modules and am yet to begin my research, which will officially begin in January, focussing on the role of EVs in plant-fungal communication during symbiosis. Nevertheless, this conference offered me the opportunity to engage with current EV research and further my plans for experiments and direction of research once I begin. This was especially aided by presentations on the first day of the conference, which were devoted to research on the roles of EVs in inter-organismal communication, a field that closely ties in with my direction of research. Here, I had the opportunity to listen to talks from leaders in the field, with an emphasis on EV-mediated plant-fungal communication in pathogenic interactions that had considerable parallels with models for the symbiotic mode of interaction; as such, the methodology and results outlined have considerably shaped my proposed avenue of research.

The following two days introduced me to the significantly broader and more developed field of EV research in animal systems, with an emphasis on their roles as causative agents and therapeutics in human pathology. Although I had a more limited understanding of the contexts for the research presented, these presentations gave me an appreciation for the many and more sophisticated techniques available for EV extraction and analysis in animal systems, and I have since begun to develop ideas for adapting these to plant EV research. During this time, there was also the opportunity to meet and discuss with other PhD students, postdocs and industry researchers in a more informal setting during dinners and a ceilidh hosted by the conference organisers, which was an incredibly enjoyable way of connecting with others in my field.

The funding from the Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund covered the cost of registration for the UKEV Society and admittance to the conference, as well as travel expenses, for which I am deeply grateful. Accommodation costs were met by the Department of Biology.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports.

Published: 9 March 2023

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