First virtual conference attendance

PhD researcher Amelie Ott attended her first virtual conference this May. Due to COVID-19, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Europe 30th Annual Meeting Open Science for Enhanced Global Environmental Protection was moved within a few weeks from a face-to-face meeting in Dublin, Ireland to a virtual conference (3-7 May 2020).

Conference attendees were able to watch all platform and poster presentations on demand with the opportunity to ask their questions to the presenters in a chat box. Each session had a live Zoom Q&A to allow for more in depth discussions between presenters and conference attendees.

Even though that Amelie missed the networking opportunities while enjoying a pint of Guinness after a long conference day, she was impressed by the well organised virtual conference experience and the opportunity to easily watch relevant presentations (rather than having to run switching rooms between parallel sessions). The photo below shows the virtual conference “entry hall”.

Amelie gave two pre-recorded platform presentations at SETAC, one on her PhD project talking about “Monitoring and modelling antibiotic resistance in a Southeast Asian river catchment” and the other one on a previous research project on “Multi-laboratory validation of a new marine biodegradation test for persistence screening”.

Amelie’s registration fee was covered by the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS) Meeting Attendance Grant.

Monitoring Sewage for SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 virus

Engineering and Physical Sciences Council (EPSRC) funds have been provided to sample and analyse sewage to estimate local concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus) across networks in Spain and North East England. The aim is to develop a way to quantify the prevalence of the COVID-19 infected individuals across the regions based on sewage data. If successful, this monitoring would help public health officials identify possible infection ‘hot spots,’ which captures both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals across a community.

The project is being co-led by Professor David Graham and Dr Marcos Quintela, with their close colleague Professor Jesús Romalde in Santiago. They also will be working with water industry partners Northumbrian Water and Labaqua, which is part of the SUEZ corporation.