Rideal Travel Bursary Recipient, Giorgia Giovannini, Reports from Newport, USA

29 Jul 2016

In 2016 Giorgia Giovannini was awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary to support her attendance at the Gordon Research Conference, which took place between 24 June and 1 July 2016 at Salve Regina University, Newport, USA. Here, she tells us how her attendance at the conference gave her the opportunity to improve her self-confidence and presentation skills, showcasing her research.

‘I participated in the Gordon Research Conference on Bioanalytical Sensors between 24 June and 1 July 2016 at Salve Regina University, Newport, USA. Gordon Research Conferences strive to be on the frontier of science and I can totally confirm that this year’s meeting achieved just that. All invited key-note speakers were presenting unpublished data which helped to understand the current challenges and opportunities in the field. The presentations defined and analysed the most important ideas in the areas like microfluidic devices, lab-on-a-chip devices, or electrochemical detection platforms. After each session the speakers listed a list of bullet points to encourage the discussion from audience.

‘The conference was opened with a symposium which took place on 24 June, the actual conference started the day after. Only postgraduate students or postdocs were allowed to participate in this meeting (the conference was attended by professors as well). I was impressed by the atmosphere which we students managed to build up: all presentations were interesting and the ‘friendly’ environment helped the development of pertinent and fascinating discussions after all talks.

‘I was invited to present my project during the symposium. It was the first time my project was exposed in front of an external scientific audience, which was an amazing opportunity. I certainly can say that my presentation skills and my self-confidence improved drastically after this experience. Furthermore, I treasured the feedback that I received from colleagues, mainly regarding my project, but even about the presentation itself. During the conference I presented a poster. The ample presentation time during the poster sections, offered me an excellent opportunity to showcase my research to all conference attendees and network with my peers. I had many interesting chats with my fellow delegates.

‘My project is focused on developing a fluorescent device capable of bacterial detection. So far, the substrate has been proved in presence of enzymes. The next step will be to analyse the device in the presence of bacteria. Learning from researchers that have experiences with bacteria assays is important for me in order to define this next fundamental step. The poster sessions showed to be the perfect environment to share knowledge and to prove my networking skills.

‘In particular I want to comment on at least a few outstanding talks. Firstly - ‘Imaging In-Vivo Functional Dynamics at High Spatiotemporal Resolution’ by Elizabeth Hillman (Columbia University, USA) literally astonished the whole audience. She revealed the details of cutting-edge imaging technique which has the ability to monitor and visualise a range physiological activities (neural signal, blood circulation) in real time. It was the first achievement of its kind which was applied on living animals without any need to paralyse them.

‘Secondly, ‘An Aptamer-Based Approach to Continuous, Real-Time Molecular’ by Kevin Plaxco (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA) demonstrated how electrochemical devices dominate the field of bioanalytical sensors thanks to their extremely good sensitivity. With this technology it is possible to measure drug levels in the whole blood of patients in real time thanks to their specific detection by aptamers.

‘High attention was paid to the commercial aspect of bioanalytical devices and the importance of scientists understanding the market needs.

‘Overall I can claim that GRC Bioanalytical Sensors 2016 was the most useful conference I have taken part in. I expanded my knowledge about the current state of the field and made valuable contacts with many researchers across Europe and the United States. Once again I want to thank the SCI-RSC Rideal Trust for supporting my participation to this important meeting and helping me to advance my career as a researcher.’

Giorgia Giovannini
University of Kent

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