Laurie Holt attends the 20th International C. elegans meeting in Los Angeles thanks to travel grant from the Biochemical Society

Nematode

‘This biennial meeting brings together researchers worldwide to share their most recent work with the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. In 1974, Sydney Brenner published his seminal paper on the genetics of C. elegans, the field has boomed into hundreds of research groups worldwide who use this tractable model organism to explore a huge number of biological questions, reflected with over 1000 talks and posters presented at the meeting, attended by close to 2000 people.

The program of talks covered a fantastic spread of topics, from studies at the molecular level to the population level, and a huge variety in between. My research is focussed on Notch signalling, and I attended several directly relevant presentations as well as many additional sessions that broadened my understanding of worm biology. Since whole animal models have so much complexity, I greatly benefitted by increasing my knowledge of specific and general areas of C. elegans research, which will be very helpful for the completion of my thesis.

As a final year PhD student looking for opportunities to take the next step in my career, I attended a careers lunch during the meeting with a variety of mentors from academic, industrial and non-research backgrounds. I found this extremely helpful as it gave me a chance to get realistic insights into the types of work I would like to pursue.

Despite the vast numbers of people participating, the ‘worm community’ fosters an extremely welcoming and supportive environment, with attendees from all stages in their career sharing their ideas. This was especially highlighted in the range of workshops offered, allowing methods ranging from the behavioural tracking of single and multiple worms to the ‘CRISPR revolution’ to be discussed by groups at the forefront of these techniques to share their protocols and best practices for the benefit of others, and I have been able to get helpful advice regarding my own practical approaches.

I would like to thank The Biochemical Society for their generous contribution to the costs my travel to this meeting, which has been thoroughly enjoyable and valuable.’

Laurie Holt, DPhil student at Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford

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