Impressions from the 2019 One Health PhD and Postdoc Summer School
Note: These comments refer to the 2019 Summer School which took place in Bern.
Aditi Dhawan, Research trainee at the National Institute of Immunology, Delhi, India
I attended the One Health Summer School 2019, 'Microbiomes in plant, soil, animal, human health' at the University of Bern. My research focused on temperature-triggered genes in M. tuberculosis, by using RNA-seq and ChIP-seq I wanted to create a gene regulatory network. This task would endeavour to deal with large-scale data analysis and visualising complex results. The summer school topics piqued my interest, and in particular, the workshops were exactly the skills I sought to learn. The discussion groups were a unique addition to the itinerary; everyone contributed their ideas and analysed various topics with the speakers. Flash talk and poster presentation familiarised me with participants' research interests. Throughout the summer school there was plenty of opportunities to interact with the speakers and participants, between lectures, lunch, or apéro. Data analysis and scientific visualisation workshops were well structured. Instructors took care to bring everybody to the same level, and many examples and dummy data were used for practice. The workshops made me confident using various plotting tools. Since I have used R for many data analysis techniques and graphical representations, even in routine work. The program was well-planned and executed. Altogether, I have a wonderful experience at the summer school.
Katja Kozjek, PhD candidate, Lund University, Sweden
In 2019 I attended the One Health Summer School entitled "Microbiomes in soil, plant, animal and human health". My PhD project is focused on how agricultural intensification and short-term experimental drought influence soil microbial communities and their functional potential. The overall topic of the Summer School perfectly fitted my PhD project and research interest. The Summer School was divided into two parts, lectures given by the researchers in the field of soil, gut and plant microbiomes. The lectures were very diverse, and even though not everyone was familiar with all the topics, the speakers made sure everyone understood the lectures. Besides keynote lectures, all of us got a chance to present a research project and discuss it with other participants during the poster sessions. In addition, invited speakers and organizers were available during poster sessions, lunch and coffee breaks, therefore it was easy to reach them, ask for advice, discuss science…. The second part of the Summer School consisted of hands-on data analysis, where we were able to choose between different topics. We got a chance to try different pipelines, and discussed results with the instructors who were very helpful. The Summer School was very well organized, with a nice balance between keynote lectures, poster sessions and discussions, bioinformatics workshop and social events, such as dinners, scientific board games, panel discussions… During the Summer School I met participants from different areas of microbiome research, and spent a very nice time at the University of Bern.
Kyle Paddock, PhD candidate, University of Missouri in Columbia, USA
I’m currently in my 3rd year of a Plant, Insect and Microbial Sciences PhD program at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. My interests involve the ecology and evolution of insect-microbe interactions. When I initially saw the title of the University of Bern OneHealth Microbiomes in Soil, Plant and Human Health Summer School for PhD students and postdocs in 2019, I was thrilled to know others were also interested in the complex web of interactions between all life. Thankfully, I was able to attend. The summer school gathered leaders in the field of microbiome science across disciple. By bringing diverse backgrounds together, we were able to discuss topics in the field more broadly and gain appreciation for the immense overlap in systems. Personally, it laid the foundation for my understanding of how best to study microbiomes. The summer school blended talks from premier researchers researchers with bioinformatic workshops to increase our coding skill. The small group sizes allowed everyone to meet and mingle inside and outside of class. I still stay in contact with some of my fellow summer schoolers! We were also given the opportunity to present our work in a poster session attended by all the speakers and students. This intimate setting allowed me to gain invaluable feedback on my project. I use much of the knowledge I gained from OneHealth today. I’m grateful to the organizers for putting in the effort to organize such a rewarding experience.
Francisco Medina Paz, PhD candidate, CINVESTAV Unidad Irapuato, México
I attended the One Health "Microbiomes in soil, plant, animal and human health" Summer School in 2019. My research is focused on the effect of domestication on the root-associated microbiome of the common bean plant. At the beginning of the summer school there were extremely interesting lectures given by highly influential researchers in their field, followed by 3-minute-talks from every participant and poster-sessions. In addition to introducing and discussing the work of the participants and lecturers, there was also room for discussion with the invited speakers and organizers on prospects for our different fields of study and science in general. On the last days of the summer school the workshops, oriented towards the knowledge and use of bioinformatic tools for the analysis of microbiomes and taught by highly qualified personnel, rounded off the multidisciplinary experience. Overall, I think the summer school was very well organized, balancing social events with scientific activities (lectures, workshops, and poster sessions). Attending summer school was a truly great experience where I was able to show my work, learn, update myself, share ideas and expand my network, opening enormous possibilities for my academic future.
Dr. Niklas Schandry, Researcher, Institute of Genetics, LMU, Germany
I attended the OneHealth "Microbiomes in soil, plant, animal and human health" summer school for PhD students and Postdocs in 2019 during my time as Postdoc at the Gregor-Mendel-Institute of Molecular Plant Biology in Vienna. My research is focused on the genetics of how plants modulate the soil and root microbiota and how root microbiota in turn feed back on the plant phenotype, therefore the overall topic of the summer-school struck my interest. The summer school was very well organized. The first days were largely reserved for lectures and poster-sessions. The lectures were extremely interesting and helped to bring everyone to the same level of background knowledge, while the poster-session facilitated discussion between participants, resulting in a nice overview of the different topics that the participants worked on. There was also enough room for discussion with the invited speakers and organizers during coffee and lunch breaks or during dinner, in an informal atmosphere. This was followed by high-quality hands-on data-analysis workshops during the next days. The workshops provided a complete overview of microbiota analysis from very qualified and engaging instructors, interspersed with coffee breaks that again helped foster a friendly and productive environment. Overall, my impression of the summer school was very positive, with an excellent balance between scientific lectures, hands-on bioinformatics workshops, poster sessions and social events. Attending the summer school has also resulted in collaborations between me and other attendees and speakers, a testimony to the networking potential of this event.
Sietske van Bentum, PhD candidate, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
When I started my PhD in October 2018, embarking on a journey through the soybean rhizosphere microbiome, I had zero experience in microbiome data analysis. Visiting the OneHealth summer school in Bern in 2019 was the best stepping stone I could have had. The lectures, of various themes, were interesting, inspiring and accessible for any young scientist. In the workshops, fundamentals of microbiome data analysis were discussed – a true gamechanger for me. I still use what I learned in Bern every day, whether in data analysis, reading literature or helping peers in their work. The week I spent together with other young scientists was also lots of fun and a nice opportunity to connect with microbiome researchers from all over Europe.
Louisa Warryn, PhD candidate, Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel
My research is focused on the control of the tropical disease Buruli ulcer, caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, a microbe that is incredibly difficult to study in its environmental habitat. I believe a One Health approach is paramount to understanding this complex albeit neglected disease, so signing up for the Summer School in 2019 was a relatively straightforward decision to make. I found the Summer School to be quite diverse and very well-coordinated. All participants, whether student or tutor, had ample opportunities to mingle both in informal and more formal settings. Initial speed talks and poster sessions allowed us to present our work to all the participants, and already helped foster an atmosphere of mutual understanding amongst us all. We also received quite a bit of theoretical and practical training from top experts in their fields, and more often than not, came away with a lot more resources than expected. As a result, I was able to learn different approaches to use in my ongoing research, and I’m very grateful to everyone who provided these resources and the opportunity to get them. All in all, I found the Summer School to be a very positive experience, with the right amount of high-quality bioinformatics practical sessions, engaging and highly informative lectures, poster sessions, and social events. A richly rewarding experience indeed.