The Gordon Research Seminar on Marine Microbes is a unique forum for graduate students, post-docs, and other scientists with comparable levels of experience and education to present and exchange new data and cutting edge ideas.
In marine systems, communities of microscopic organisms interact with one another at micrometer scales, yet these processes influence the global environment. Marine microbiologists probe these dynamic systems from the micro to the macro. Together, we synthesize these diverse datasets and collaborate across disciplines to better understand the dynamics of our planet. Marine microbiology encapsulates the biotic, abiotic and human-induced factors that affect marine microbes—at small and large spatial scales, and over short and long time frames. In fluctuating systems, the marine microbes we study adapt feeding strategies, behaviour, interactions and even habitats, all the while acquiring new functions, morphologies, and diversity. Similarly, early career marine microbiologists are faced with rapidly advancing technologies, uncertain funding and employment landscapes, yet we persist and carry out groundbreaking research.
Through the GRS we hope to bring together early career marine microbiologists to share new research advancements, prospects and goals for future studies in a setting where ideas can be shared and discussed freely and comfortably. The interdisciplinary challenges of our field require intense collaboration, clever ways of handling diverse datasets, and creativity to ensure funding. At this seminar we will feature graduate student, postdoctoral and keynote speakers who can highlight innovation in these areas.
To address the previously mentioned challenges: at this year's Marine Microbes GRS, in addition to inviting speakers to share their cutting edge, unpublished research, we also ask participants to (1) Create a "Pie in the Sky" slide at the end of their presentation—which we rename the "Castagnaccio in the Sky" in honor of our site in Tuscany. The slide should summarize an avenue of research that could be pursued given infinite funding, time, and collaborations. Our goal is that during subsequent discussions at meals and during free time, these hopeful slides will foster new collaborations and strategies to turn "Castagnaccio in the Sky" plans into realities. (2) We also invite presenters to share their greatest fears or failures in research. Because the practice of research is often like evolution through trial and error, mistakes and experiments gone awry often lead to the most exciting, unexpected advances. We hope to acknowledge these challenges as another way of fostering discussions that will promote collaborations and advancements for early career marine microbiologists.