Invited Speaker 1 | Jens Walter | University of Alberta

Associate Professor and CAIP Chair for Nutrition, Microbes and Gastrointestinal Health | Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science/ Department of Biological Sciences | University of Alberta

Jens Walter is an Associate Professor and Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair for Nutrition, Microbes, and Gastrointestinal Health at the University of Alberta.  After receiving his doctoral degree from the University of Hohenheim in Germany, he performed postdoctoral research into genetic and metagenomic approaches to study gut microbial ecology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Dr. Walter’s main research interests are the investigation of ecological and evolutionary processes that shape host–microbial symbioses in the vertebrate gut. He is further involved in the development of microbiome-targeted nutritional and therapeutic strategies that apply ecological and evolutionary concepts to improve human health.

Invited Speaker 2 | Chris Creevey | University of Aberystwyth

Reader in Rumen Systems Biology at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) Aberystwyth University.

Dr Chris Creevey is currently a Reader in Rumen Systems Biology at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in Aberystwyth University. In June 2018 he will take up a position as Chair in Computational Biology at the Institute for Global Food Security in Queens University Belfast. His group is interested understanding the complex interactions of natural microbial communities, using metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and metaproteomic data analyses. Novel computational approaches developed in his group utilise evolutionary and ecological concepts to understand the function and stability of natural host-associated microbial communities with a particular emphasis on the rumen microbiome.

Chris received his Ph.D. in 2002 from the National University of Ireland for his work in the area of phylogenetics and comparative genomics. Following this he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in NUI Maynooth Ireland and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. In 2009 he was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland Stokes lecturership in Teagasc Ireland. He took up his current position in 2013.

Invited Speaker 3 | Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello | New York University School of Medicine

Associate Professor | Human Microbiome Program | New York University School of Medicine

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello received her undergraduate degree in 1983 from Simon Bolivar University –Venezuela-, her Masters in 1987 and her PhD in 1990 from University of Aberdeen –Scotland- did a postdoc at the Institute National de la Recherche Agronomic, France, worked at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research in Venezuela, at University of Puerto Rico, at NYU School of Medicine and is a Henry Rutgers Professor of Microbiome and Health at Rutgers University since Jan 2018.

She is a member of the American Academy of microbiology, an IDSA fellow, belongs to the editorial board of several journals and has over 110 scientific publications. Her lab uses microbial ecology, genomics and anthropology to address broad questions about microbe- hosts interaction, microbiome development, impacts and restoration. Her research focuses on microbiome development and on impact of modern practices, and is focused on babies during development, and on isolated peoples that have not been exposed to medicine. Her research work has involved the synergy of a network of collaborators in Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, and the US.

'Communicating Science' Speaker 1 | Lindsay J Hall | Quadram Institute

Microbiome Research Leader | Wellcome Trust Investigator | Quadram Institute Bioscience

Lindsay is the Microbiome Research Leader at the newly formed Quadram Institute in Norwich (formally Institute of Food Research), and she is also a Wellcome Trust Investigator. Her research team studies early life gut microbiota-host interactions, with a particular focus on Bifidobacterium. She has a BSc in microbiology from the University of Glasgow, a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of Cambridge, was a postdoctoral fellow at University College Cork, Ireland, and a Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia, UK. As well as loving research, Lindsay also feels passionately about engaging with others about microbiota research; discussing the impact of our resident friendly bacteria on our everyday lives and also the wider exciting world of science. She does this in a variety of ways including contributing to newspaper/magazine articles, writing blogs, giving public talks, running sessions at science festivals and at schools, and also appearing on the TV. To reach wider audiences she has recently been awarded a public engagement award from the Wellcome Trust (‘me and my microbiome’).

'Communicating Science' Speaker 2 | Martin J. Blaser | New York University Lagone Medical Centre

Muriel G. and George W. Singer Professor of Translational Medicine | Professor of Microbiology | Director, Human Microbiome Program | New York University Lagone Medical Centre

Martin J. Blaser is the Singer Professor of Medicine, Professor of Microbiology, and Director of the Human Microbiome Program at the NYU School of Medicine. He served as Chair of the Department of Medicine from 2000-2012. A physician and microbiologist, Dr. Blaser is interested in understanding the relationships we have with our persistently colonizing bacteria. His work focused on Campylobacter species and Helicobacter pylori, which also are model systems for understanding the interactions of residential bacteria with their hosts. Over the last 15 years, he has been actively studying the relationship of the human microbiome with health and important diseases as asthma, obesity, diabetes, and allergies. Dr. Blaser has served as President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute, and Chair of the Advisory Board for Clinical Research of the NIH. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy for Arts and Sciences. He holds 28 U.S. patents, and has authored over 570 original articles. Recently, he wrote Missing Microbes, a book targeted to general audiences.

'Communicating Science' Speaker 3 | Paul Richards | Microbiology Society

Policy Manager | Microbiology Society 

Paul works as Policy Manager at the Microbiology Society, a membership charity for scientists interested in microbes, their effects and their practical uses. Paul has worked with scientists to facilitate knowledge exchange, promote science and communicate expert advice to policy-makers and other stakeholders on topics including food security, antimicrobial resistance, and research funding, skills and infrastructure. Recently, he worked on a project and report entitled ‘Unlocking the Microbiome’, identifying opportunities and challenges for progressing emerging microbiome science and innovation.

Paul holds a PhD in Genetics from the University of Nottingham and first class degree in Zoology from the University of Sheffield, and was a JSPS Summer Program Fellow at Tohoku University, Japan. Paul has previously worked as a BBSRC Policy Intern at the Royal Society of Biology and Policy Officer at the Microbiology Society, and as spoken at several symposiums about engaging and working in science policy.

'Communicating Science' Speaker 4 & Host | Eleanor Bradford | Spey Communications

Partner | Spey Communications

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and experienced PR professional. In 2018 she joined Moray-based Spey Communications, which represents leading names in the tourism, construction and food and drink sectors. Prior to that she was Head of Communications at the University of Aberdeen. Eleanor was the BBC’s Health Correspondent in Scotland from 2001 – 2016, where her investigative journalism led to the Penrose Inquiry into infected NHS blood supplies, and her work was recognised with national awards from the Medical Journalists Association. Eleanor was a BBC journalist for 20 years, reporting on everything from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. She regularly speaks at conferences on the importance of engaging with the media and also sits on the board of a leading UK charity.

Invited Speaker 4 | Emily Balskus | Harvard University

Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology | Harvard University

Emily is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she first became interested in chemistry as a high school student. She graduated from Williams College in 2002 as valedictorian with highest honors in chemistry. After spending a year at the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar in the lab of Prof. Steven Ley, she pursued graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB) at Harvard University, receiving her PhD in 2008. Her graduate work with Prof. Eric Jacobsen focused on the development of asymmetric catalytic transformations and their application in the total synthesis of complex molecules. From 2008–2011 she was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Prof. Christopher T. Walsh. Her research in the Walsh lab involved elucidating and characterizing biosynthetic pathways for the production of small molecule sunscreens by photosynthetic bacteria. She also received training in microbial ecology and environmental microbiology as a member of the Microbial Diversity Summer Course at the Marine Biology Lab at Woods Hole during the summer of 2009.

Emily joined the CCB faculty in 2011 and is currently the Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. She is also an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a Faculty Associate of the Microbial Sciences Initiative at Harvard, a member of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center, and a member of the MIT Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics. Her independent research has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 2011 Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research, the 2012 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and the 2013 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. She was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 in 2014 and in 2016 was named an HHMI-Gates Faculty Scholar.

Invited Speaker 5 | Harry Flint | University of Aberdeen

Emiritus Professor | University of Aberdeen

Harry Flint obtained a BSc and PhD in Genetics from the University of Edinburgh and subsequently held appointments at the Universities of Nottingham, the West Indies and Edinburgh before joining the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen in 1985. He is now an Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen. Harry’s research over the past 32 years has focussed on the contribution of commensal and symbiotic micro-organisms inhabiting the mammalian gut to nutrition and health, both in the rumen and in the human large intestine. He helped to pioneer the application of molecular approaches in combination with cultural microbiology to studying gut microbial communites, in particular the microbial degradation of plant cell wall polysaccharides and resistant starch, and the production and utilization of acetate, propionate, butyrate and lactate in the human colon. His research has also employed human studies involving complete control over dietary intake to reveal the impact of different types of fibre upon gut microbiota composition, as well as theoretical and experimental modelling of microbial metabolism. Harry led three successive Scottish Government-funded 5-year research programmes on Gut Health and research projects funded by the EU, charities (WCRF), UK Research Councils (BBSRC), commercial partners and NIH. He also served on the UK ACNFP (Advisory Committee for Novel Foods and Processes) and as a Scientific Governor of the British Nutrition Foundation. Harry has published > 250 primary research papers, reviews and book chapters and has an h-index (Google Scholar) of 84.