Oct. 12, 2023 | News

The Microbiome Roadshow: Recapping the 2023 Summer Conference Season


NMDC team members (l to r) Chien-Chi Lo, Ambassador Reid Longley, Bin Hu, Patrick Chain, Po-E Li, Mark Flynn, Julia Kelliher, Leah Johnson, Aaron Robinson, and Buck Hanson met during SFA^2F in June 2023.  Credit: Shawn Starkenburg, Los Alamos National Laboratory

This summer, our team rolled up their posters, packed their sunscreen, and traveled to eight different conferences across the globe. Conferences are a valuable opportunity for our team members to meet the research community, including microbiologists, virologists, ecologists, and software developers. We host a variety of activities that allow us to connect with others across a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences. From June until August, team members from all three NMDC-affiliated DOE national laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) gave presentations. They hosted workshops about the NMDC products and our approach to scientific engagement.

We launched the summer conference season in June when team members attended conferences in Sante Fe, New Mexico;  Houston, Texas; and Flagstaff, Arizona. 

The SFA^2F conference was attended by team members Patrick Chain, Po-e Li, Chien-Chi Lo, Julia Kelliher, Leah Johnson, Mark Flynn, Migun Shakya, and Yan Xu, as well as two NMDC Champions, Buck Hanson and Aaron Robinson, and one Ambassador, Reid Longley. Kelliher and Longley presented a workshop on NMDC EDGE, giving participants hands-on experience running the NMDC multi-omics standardized bioinformatics workflows. 

The following week, Emiley Eloe-Fadrosh, Kelliher, Ingrid Ockert, and Simon Roux attended the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM) Microbe 2023 conference, along with NMDC Ambassadors Ishi Keenum, Saraí Finks, and Longley. You can read more about the ASM Microbe 2023 conference on our blog. 

Johnson and Montana Smith, Heng-An Lin, and Jiaxian Shen, two of our Ambassadors, attended the virtual NSURP meeting. NSURP is a program that provides opportunities for BIPOC and Latinx undergraduate students to conduct microbiological research. Fifteen students participated in the virtual workshop and learned about the importance of FAIR data. 

Finally, Johnson, Kelliher, Longley, and Robinson hit the road on July 29 and traveled to the Mycological Society of America Annual Meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona.


NMDC team members Julia Kelliher, Mark Miller, Montana Smith, and Yuri Corilo traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, for the 23rd annual GSC Meeting. (l to r) Credit: Montana Smith. 

August was a busy time for the team. During the month, we attended four conferences; three of them occurred during the first week of August. 

At the Ecological Society of America conference in Portland, Oregon, Alicia Clum, Patrick Kalita, and Lee Ann McCue hosted two collaborative events with National Ecological Observation Network (NEON) team members. Clum reported, “We had a great time co-hosting a workshop on finding data from NEON sites using NMDC and NEON resources.” She noted that it was great for both teams to co-host these sessions in person and that the events further strengthened the NMDC’s and NEON’s collaborative goals.

That same week in August, Yuri Corilo, Kelliher, Mark Miller, and Smith flew to Bangkok, Thailand, to attend the 23rd annual Genomic Standards Consortium Meeting. Team members gave several presentations and led a workshop on the NMDC products.  GSC members awarded Smith, the NMDC’s Submission Portal product owner, the 2023 Dawn Field Award for Outstanding Contributions to Genomic Standards. After accepting the award, Smith presented on how to help researchers implement FAIR data in a feasible & valuable way. 

While NMDC team members were in Portland and Bangkok, Johnson attended the American Society of Plant Biologists’s Plant Biology 2023 conference in Savannah, Georgia.  During her time at PB23, Johnson focused on exploring how our team can serve users from the plant microbiome research community.  She reflected, “It was fun connecting with people across different fields and seeing how many were excited about implementing metadata and data standards for FAIR data practices.”

Following the JGI User Meeting in mid-August, Eloe-Fadrosh and Ambassadors Thomas Pitot and Josué Rodríguez-Ramos co-hosted a workshop. Pitot and Rodríguez-Ramos led hands-on activities that gave attendees an overview of our program and products. Pitot noted, “Our NMDC workshop attracted about thirty people from different backgrounds. All were very eager to dive into NMDC and its tools. The questions, chats, and comments that popped up during the workshop sparked some serious brainstorming.” 

All in all, this summer, we traveled to eight conferences and gave fifteen presentations to the community. 672 conference attendees learned how our tools enable inclusive and interdisciplinary environmental microbiome science. This summer, we worked hard to connect data, people, and ideas. This fall, we will appear at three more conferences: The Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Hispanics & Native Americans in Science annual meeting (SACNAS) in Portland and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting in San Francisco. Want to learn more about our upcoming events? Follow us on LinkedIn and X for more information. 


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