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  • Writer's pictureSopida Wongwas

Summer School 2022 #SSAMM2022

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

From 10-18 September 2022, I and Sophie had the pleasure of attending a summer school in applied molecular microbiology in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

This summer school was held for the ninth time in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The course was organised in collaboration with the University of Warwick, the John Innes Centre (a UK research institute), the Inter-University Centre (IUC), and Institut Ruđer Bošković (a Croatian scientific research centre). The course concentrated on natural products and specialised metabolites.

We arrived in the afternoon of Saturday 10th September. We took a shuttle bus from Dubrovnik Airport to the Old Town area where the summer school was located. The dormitory and all the lectures are housed in a beautiful IUC building. After unloading our luggage in the dorm, we walked around the old town a bit. After that, I met my roommate, Sarah from New Zealand. I was surprised that we had students from around the world in this course. I got new friends from Italy, Portugal, the US, Canada, Japan, Slovenia, and many other countries in Europe. Then, we had a welcome lecture which introduced us to the world of specialised metabolites. After that, we had a reception in the IUC's courtyard.

On Sunday, September 11th, the course officially began. Every morning, we ate breakfast in the courtyard. The lectures then began at 9 a.m. every day until Saturday, September 17th. Except for Wednesday the 14th, which was a boat trip day. We are permitted to eat breakfast until 10 a.m. We usually ate lunch and dinner at Mimoza, a restaurant close to IUC. We had two days of small group dinners where we ate at different restaurants with faculty members. We were free to eat wherever we wanted on Wednesday. Mimoza frequently serves seafood, which I enjoyed. My favourite dish, however, was the black risotto made from squid ink, which I had for the small group dinner at a restaurant near the old harbour. What I like about the meals is that we are free to sit with anyone, including faculty members, so we can meet a lot of new people.

Aside from lectures, we had small group discussions on various topics that we chose before coming to summer school. We could choose up to 3 topics and I chose: Natural product purification and structural determination, Techniques for genetic manipulation, and Elucidating enzyme function and mechanism; interrogating biosynthetic protein interactions. Apart from the technological advances shared during the sessions, we also discussed the problems we are experiencing in the labs. I received many useful tips and advice that I intend to use to improve my work. We also had a computer workshop session on the Analysis of a gene cluster encoding a cryptic modular polyketide synthase assembly line.

For three days, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., we held flash talks and poster sessions. It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase your work while also learning about what others were up to. I received a lot of interesting questions and discovered a lot of interesting work.

We had a free time slot every day from 3:30 pm to 6 pm. We were given a free guided historical tour of Dubrovnik on the first day. We learn a lot of interesting facts about this ancient city, including how strong its walls are. I went on the city walls with some friends the other day. It was breathtaking to see the entire city from above. One afternoon, I also went swimming. It was lovely. My favourite swimming session was at Cavtat on the day we went on the boat trip. It felt like you were swimming in the middle of the mountain and the water was crystal clear. We also went to Supetar, a small island where some people swam around for half an hour. It had been a very relaxing day.

For me, it was my first time attending a summer school in research, and I was wondering what I would get out of it. I met some great people from all over the world and we had a lot of fun together. The school was well organised, everything was well-planned, and it was easy for me to get to know the other students. I strongly recommend anyone with an interest in the future to enrol in this summer school.

In this opportunity, I got a meeting grant from FEMS. Thanks FEMS!


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