The 19th FEBS Young Scientists’ Forum (YSF) took place in Krakow, Poland from 3rd to 6th July 2019 alongside the 4th FEBS Fellows Meeting (see page 22) and directly before the 44th FEBS Congress. The venue was the Faculty of Chemistry, located at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University Campus, with participants accommodated at the Apart Hotel Vanilla near the campus.
As usual, the YSF was organized by a local committee of young researchers*, overseen by the Chair of the FEBS Working Group on the Careers of Young Scientists. With the aim of providing a supportive European forum for early-stage researchers across a range of fields in the molecular biosciences to meet each other, present their work, and learn from experts, the event brought together 102 postdocs and PhD students (selected from 255 candidates) from 24 countries in the FEBS area, as well as experienced scientists and specialists. YSF participants received financial support from FEBS to attend the YSF and also the ensuing FEBS Congress, and two were directly sponsored by the UK Biochemical Society.
The scientific programme included lectures, symposia and poster sessions, as well as career and soft skill sessions. In addition, an extensive social side of the event enabled participants to get to know each other, establish closer contacts and experience Krakow.
During the scientific part, participants listened to wonderful keynote lectures: the opening lecture given by Eric Westhof (Strasbourg, FR) introducing the subject of ribosomal decoding and control over translation; the closing lecture by Isabel Fariñas (Valencia, ES) on remote signalling in stem cell biology; and lectures from Jonathan Heddle (Krakow, PL) addressing synthetic structural biology, from Michaël Ryckelynck (Strasbourg, FR) on RNA analysis by droplet microfluidics, and from Agnieszka Chacińska (Warsaw, PL) on cellular stress and mitochondria. Fifteen participants were chosen to deliver symposia talks, and all participants prepared posters showing the results of their work, which were previously presented in the form of a 1-min–1-slide presentation. Prizes were awarded for oral presentations (1st, Ivan Corbeski, NL; 2nd, Miriam Linsenmeier, CH; 3rd, Marco Cavaco, PT) and for poster presentations (1st, Andrew Hammond, UK; 2nd, Laura Casarrubios Molino, ES; 3rd, Almudena Ponce-Salvatierra, PL).
The sessions on career development and soft skills first presented scholarship/fellowship opportunities (David del Álamo, DE – EMBO Fellowships; Gaetano Castaldo, BE – MSCA: Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions; Alain Krol, FR – FEBS Fellowships), and then participants learned from experts in CV writing (Keith Elliott, UK), writing scientific publications (Mary Purton, UK) and creating scientific presentations (Miguel A. De la Rosa, ES), who gave short lectures stimulating subsequent discussions in groups (chosen according to participants’ interests). This section also included talks on important contemporary topics: the role of women in science (María Luz Cárdenas, FR), and engaging the public in your science (Mark Roberts, UK). Lastly, former FEBS Secretary General Israel Pecht, IL, and Claudina Rodrigues-Pousada, PT, former Chair of the FEBS Working Group on the Careers of Young Scientists, gave historical perspectives of the work of FEBS for early-stage researchers.
The social programme of the 19th YSF included the opening ceremony in the Krzysztofory Palace tenement house in the centre of Krakow, a dinner in the historic Lubicz Brewery, a visit to Solaris – Polish National Synchrotron, a get-together party in Wieliczka Salt Mine combined with sightseeing and dancing 100 m underground and, finally, an exploration of Krakow’s Old Town during a guided walk to the ICE Krakow Congress Centre. Friendships and connections were also supported by a closed ‘room’ on the FEBS Network platform, where all 19th YSF participants are registered, together with the lecturers and participants of the 4th FEBS Fellows Meeting. Ahead of the event, room members could see who was attending and read posts introducing aspects of Krakow and Poland from the Organizing Committee, as well as actively develop the room by participating in a Communication Challenge, where the best posts were recognized with prizes (1st, Victoria Barygina, IT; 2nd, Antonio Zandona, HR; 3rd, Iva Uzelac, RS).
In addition to providing a forum to directly support young scientists, the YSF also allows experienced scientists and FEBS to listen to opinions and assess the needs of their younger colleagues, to inform future plans for support for young scientists in the early stages of their scientific career. Related to this, this year the FEBS Working Group on the Careers of Young Scientists has had the excellent input of Vlastimil Kulda (Chair of 18th YSF) and Anna Jagusiak (Chair of 19th YSF) for future ideas, one example of which was a new informal ‘bridge’ event held during the FEBS Congress to bring early-stage scientists together, explain FEBS support for young scientists and introduce the next YSF, which will be held 1–4 July 2020 in Lovran, Croatia.
Irene Díaz-Moreno, Chair, FEBS Working Group on the Careers of Young Scientists
Anna Jagusiak, Chair, 19th YSF Organizing Committee
*19th YSF Organizing Committee: Anna Jagusiak (Chair), Kinga Kłodawska, Katarzyna Kolczyńska, Anna Mleczko, Sonia Trojan and Tomasz Tronina.
For a perspective on the value of the 19th YSF from one of the participants, enjoy an account on the FEBS Network platform by Nicola Edwards: ‘A Cracking Time in Krakow – thoughts from the 19th YSF and 44th FEBS Congress’.
First published in FEBS News November 2019, pages 20–22: