JIC-TSL Student ASM 2023: A captivating showcase of student brilliance

On Thursday 13th July, students from the John Innes Centre (JIC) and The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) gathered for the Student Annual Science Meeting (ASM). Enticed in by hot coffee, a warm auditorium, and most importantly, the chance to listen to cutting edge research presented by their fellow students.  

This event is organised annually for students by students on the JIC and TSL Student Voice committees, and is one of the most exciting student events in the calendar.  

The Student ASM is one of the largest event of its kind where students get to meet peers from other departments, to give and hear talks about research, to learn and exchange ideas.  

The judgement-free and respectful environment of an all-student event gives everyone participating a chance to present their research in a relaxed, supportive setting. Not only providing a stage for students to practise presenting their research to a large audience, the Student ASM also allows students to practise asking questions, to provide constructive comments as active audience members, and to present their own research as posters. 

Each year, in the John Innes Conference Centre Auditorium, students from across JIC and TSL give presentations. The speakers are the students who won the “Best Poster” awards at the previous year’s Student ASM.  

From these speakers, each year a “Best Presenter” prize is awarded, and this student is offered the opportunity to present, alongside group leaders and senior scientists at the all staff JIC/TSL ASM later in the year. 

At this year’s event, the speakers included the 12 poster winners from the 2022 Annual Science Meeting: Leah McPhillips, Sophie Carpenter, Rose McNelly, Ruth Kristianingsih, Emma Turley, AmirAli Toghani, Katie Long, Emma Raven, Thomas Navarro, Max Jordan, Marina Millan-Blanquez and Molly Bergum.  

For the first time, there were also three additional speakers: Mauricio Contreras and Alex McClelland, both from TSL, and Ella Baker, a JIC Year in Industry student. These additional talks were for students who weren’t able to get the best poster awards but were keen to present their research to the student community at JIC.  

The speakers presented a wide range of high calibre talks, on topics such as plant immunity, cell-to-cell communication, small RNAs, linear plasmid maintenance, spatial and comparative transcriptomics, wheat genomics, and bacterial circadian clocks. 

The event is topped off by and invited plenary speaker, and this year Melissa Tomkins, a postdoctoral researcher from the JIC Computational and Systems Biology department, presented about the ability to use cutting-edge simulations to model simple and complex biological systems.  

After the plenary talk the prestigious “Best Talk” award is presented. Congratulations to this year’s winners, which ended in a tie: Emma Raven, whose talk was titled “Keeping channels of communication open in times of stress”, and Max Jordan, with his talk titled “Autoactive NLRs: a novel tool for drug overproduction?”.  

Their names will both be carved on the plaque, and they share the £150 cash prize, generously donated by TSL and JIC. 

Huge thank you to Josh Waites (Student ASM representative), AmirAli Toghani, Thomas Navarro, Reuben James, Susie Gill and Aileen Magilin, who chaired the sessions, Gurpinder Singh Sidhu, who photographed the event, and to JIC and TSL for funding this event. 

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