On Friday, I headed back to Birmingham but this time to give a JAM talk!
JAM (Junior Award for Microbiology) talks are run by a group of early career researchers at the University of Birmingham, supported by the IMI Birmingham and the Microbiology Society. I submitted an abstract at the end of last year and found out in January that I was one of the 11 people selected to give a 20 minute presentation on my research.
The great thing about JAM talks is how friendly they are. The audience is entirely early career scientists; Masters and PhD students plus postdocs within three years of obtaining their doctorate. Not only does this take the pressure off the presenters but it also encourages questions from those who might have felt intimidated putting their hands up in a room full of PIs. This, plus the copious amount of wine, beer and fancy snacks, makes for a super welcoming environment.
The organising committee were really helpful leading up to the session, making sure I had my trains sorted and sending me across a voucher for overnight accommodation. They met me and the other speaker at University station before walking us the 15 minutes to our rooms (very comfy king room, best night’s sleep I have had in ages).
My talk was the second of the two. Normally I can’t concentrate on any presentations ahead on mine for nerves, but the friendly atmosphere meant that I was actually able to enjoy Rebecca Brown’s story about the gut microbiota. It was quite a lot of immunology which I found super interesting. I then had a half hour slot to present the work that we had submitted only the day before, and I think it was well received. If nothing else, it was nice to be able to change ‘Hall et al., in prep’ to ‘submitted’ on my slides!
We then had a couple of hours afterwards to socialise and make our way through the food and wine before heading across to New Street for dinner at The Stable, a lovely little pizza place that did the most amazing vegan pizza. It was great fun, and nice to put some faces to Twitter handles too.
I was quite nervous before I went down; it was the longest talk I have given and giving an external presentation feels different to doing one at your home university. It was however a fantastic experience and I couldn’t recommend enough that other early career researchers submit an abstract when the next round of applications open. You’ve nothing to lose and a really fun evening to gain!