11th International Symposium on Biodegradable Polyesters, 23 - 26 November 2008, Auckland, New Zealand

The 11th International Symposium on Biodegradable Polyesters was organised by Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand from 23 - 26 November 2008. This is the most important conference in biological polyesters and takes place every two years, attracting eminent scientists from around the globe. As biological polyesters involves interdisciplinary areas of biotechnology, medicine, physics, chemistry, polymer science and chemical engineering, the conference covered all these different aspects of research. All the sections were very intellectually stimulating, with prominent figures presenting their work and providing latest developments in their area. The keynote speakers included A Sinskey from MIT, USA, whose presentation, ‘Polyhydroxyalkanoates Today’ was particularly interesting as he was able to give a good insight on the progress made in Polyhydroxyalkanoates till now and on its future.

Other keynote speakers were A Steinbüchel from the University of Munster, Germany who spoke on ‘Engineering Ralstonia eutropha towards insoluble inclusions’; and R Gross from Polytechnic Institute of NYU, USA on ‘ New Cell – Free Enzyme- Catalysed Polymer Technology’. Another talk I found really interesting was by Dr Chen of Tsinghua University, Beijing, on the innovative use of Polyhydroxyalkanoates as bio fuels.

Attending this conference provided me the platform to present my own work, in the form of a poster entitled, ‘Microbial Production of Medium Chain length Polyhydroxyalkanoates from Pseudomonas sp UOW7399’. The poster session in particular enabled me to interact with others, receive helpful feedback on my work, and also exchange ideas, which should prove beneficial for my future endeavours.

The conference also provided me with the opportunity to build new contacts and look forward to future collaborations. I was particularly pleased to see industry involvement in this subject, and feel I now have a better understanding of the interaction between academia and industry. Finally, I enjoyed New Zealand’s Maori culture and took a ride on the Auckland’s Sky Tower, the highest tower in the southern hemisphere.

Ranjana Ra
University of Westminster

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