Microorganisms and salt, a conference in Storrs, CT

Guest blog post by Bonnie Baxter and R. Thane Papke

Halophiles 2013: The International Congress on Halophilic Microorganisms is a multidisciplinary international conference, with a strong history of regular triennial meetings since 1978. As the title implies, our research passions are found at the interface of salt and microorganisms, and our motivation for organizing such a conference is to bring together, into a single forum, researchers from a wide diversity of investigation interests (e.g., biodiversity and evolution; proteins and biochemistry; genetics and biotechnology; biogeochemistry and astrobiology). By doing so, we hope to integrate and synthesize ideas and data from all three domains of life, and viruses/phage from a single environmental condition; salt concentrations greater than seawater. This conference provides exceptional opportunities for researchers to exchange ideas, gain scientific comprehension, interact with old friends, meet new colleagues, and form collaborations with a diverse group of scientists with data from molecules to communities.

This congress is unique in that it is not connected to a scientific society, and therefore does not receive funding, endorsement or advertising from an organizational body. Attending this conference means you will not be pressured to join a scientific society, pay dues, nor subscribe to a journal. Despite a lack of organizational support, here we are, preparing to engage in our 10th convention. How is it possible for an unstructured group to maintain its cohesion? Perhaps a bit mawkish, but our continued success as an ad-hoc group reflects our commitment and appetite for camaraderie, and to share data and ideas among similar minded people. Scientists have told us that this meeting is the most important conference series for their career: it has a huge influence in terms of presenting and viewing groundbreaking discoveries in the halophiles field, and for the networking opportunities available from an intimate gathering. It is exceedingly common to see students approach and interact with invited speakers.

We, therefore, encourage the participation of younger colleagues and hope to subsidize the travel costs of graduate students and post-docs with funds from a National Science Foundation award, and we are placing a significant emphasis on those from groups underrepresented in science. As a scientific community, we have a strong history of reaching out to early-career scientists as well as women and minorities. We recognize the power of mentorship and are committed to maintaining that role in this conference series.

The Halophiles 2013 conference will be held at the University of Connecticut, which ranks among the top public research universities in the U.S., on the Storrs campus, June 23rd-27th. For more information regarding the conference (e.g., speakers, schedule, directions, etc.) and registration, which covers accommodations, parking, travel to and from Bradley Airport, or the Hartford train/bus station, all conference activities and meals, please visit the conference website. We hope to see you there! http://www.regonline.com/halophiles2013.


Bonnie Baxter, Director of Great Salt Lake Institute, Westminster College

R. Thane Papke, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut

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