Meeting report - EMC

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Every four years microscopy users, scientists, engineers and industry leaders meet in Europe to take stock of microscopy and the science it enables. The venue this time around was Lyon, France and the food and hospitality of France’s second city served as the backdrop to a fabulous meeting of minds where new frontiers were set.

The Cité International conference centre hosted the week-long celebration of microscopy and an impressive line-up of international speakers gave plenary lectures in the grand auditorium.

A view from the auditorium

Of particular note was the Monday morning address by Eric Betzig. The Nobel laureate held the audience captivated for nearly 60 minutes as his casual and engaging delivery documented the adventures he had taken and the problems solved to permit live cell imaging beyond the classical diffraction limit. Having contributed to solving the issue in a number of ways including interactions with researchers in structured illumination and other super-resolution techniques you’d be forgiven for thinking that this would be a place to stop and rest. However, Betzig has continued to deal with another issue that was bothering him, namely, the amount of light required to excite fluorophores in super-resolution and fluorescence imaging, which can damage cells. This led him to light sheet imaging, where only one plane of light is illuminated at a time, thus limiting the total dose to the sample. I’m pretty sure that by the time he received his Hon FRMS from RMS president Pete Nellist, many electron microscopists felt they’d been schooled on how to do microscopy and made to question their own efforts!

Eric Betzig receives his Hon FRMS from the RMS President Pete Nellist

Moving on from the masterclass, the meeting got underway with multiple parallel sessions on life sciences, materials and instrumentation. The sessions provided both invited and contributed abstract speakers the opportunity to share their knowledge and recent work to peers and the feel of  was optimistic and forward looking. This was matched by the showcase of hardware and software on display in the exhibition hall, which was full of the usual global players in microscopy. It was also nice to see some smaller European companies for the first time and get to know some of them. Part of my job as editor is to tour the stands at a show and chat to the marketing and applications specialists to see what’s newly possible or improved on previous versions. I also get the chance to see new hardware and results from new applications from around the world. At this show I took the opportunity to record some short video interviews with vendors, these are collected together in a special editorial and give a flavour of microscopy at the show.

The meeting was well attended and the posters were abundant and diverse in their origin and content. The poster sessions were supported daily by wine and cheese, which I’m sure promoted many healthy discussions. There were also a number of social functions in the evenings held by some of the big electron microscopy manufacturers.

Final numbers were around 2500 happy attendees from 51 countries. As part of the proceedings, venue for the next meeting was decided by vote and the winner for the 2020 meeting was Copenhagen.  In my book this meeting was a huge success and the organisers should be congratulated on a job well done. See you all in Denmark in 2020!!

Chris Parmenter FRMS

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