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Answered: 12 questions about London Calling 2020 (and why we’d love you to come and present your research)

Tue 18th February 2020


With two weeks left to submit an abstract for London Calling 2020, we take a look at what it’s like to be a speaker at London Calling – and why we’d like you to be one of them this year.

Q: What’s London Calling all about?

A: London Calling is an annual conference hosted by Oxford Nanopore in, well, London. Since 2015, it’s been a place for people across numerous fields of research to meet and share how they’re using nanopore sequencing in their work, encompassing everything from clinical research to plant genomics to bioinformatics. This year’s conference will feature over 100 talks - and we’re always looking for new voices.


Q: Who can I meet there? (And who’s presenting?)

A: International scientists from a wide range of backgrounds and applications come to London Calling, as both delegates and speakers – whether they’re in academic research (students, doctors, professors…) or applying nanopore sequencing in areas such as outbreak surveillance, agriculture, education and lots more. Our goal is to enable anyone to sequence anything, anywhere - and making sure that our conferences champion the work of people across the scientific community is central to that.


Q:  Where can I find it?

A: We’re excited to be in Old Billingsgate (right on the River Thames) for the fourth year running. It’s a quirky space – originally a fish market – with room for our plenary stage, live sequencing demos and many more rooms for research area-focused discussions. Old Billingsgate is wheelchair-accessible from the main delegate entrance and has lift access to all floors. We have breakfast and lunch at the venue each day, and of course stay topped up with drinks and snacks (everything from coffee to pick & mix). There is a nursing room in the venue equipped with a fridge and furniture. If you have any questions about dietary requirements, facilities on-site or accessibility requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any point.


Q: So, over 100 talks? That’s a lot…

A: Yes – and there are a lot of different kinds. On the main stage, as well as the more in-depth plenary talks, there are the quick-fire lightning talks (just 4 minutes each), providing a great introduction to a vast range of projects, and there’s the Spotlight Session for early-career scientists (read all about it here). Meanwhile, our Breakout sessions each host three speakers on a particular theme – with this year featuring single cell sequencing, metagenomics, structural variation, chromatin conformation and many others – followed by an informal discussion of the wider topic. There’s lots more, too – take a look at the agenda for the full list. As well as talks, we are also taking applications for scientific posters.


Q: I’m considering presenting – what would the format be?

A: It varies from session to session, but each features your presentation, some time for questions and in some, a panel discussion. To make sure that your audience goes beyond only those who can make the conference, we film almost all presentations and make them available online; we also have a live blogging team who will write up your talk to share with the Nanopore Community. The AV team will give you a mic and talk you through the process ahead of your presentation (also – if you’re wearing a dress without pockets on the day, it would be great if you could add a belt that we can attach your receiver pack to). Oh and, if you’re a plenary speaker, we’d like you to pick your own walk-on music. All speakers are sent an information pack before the conference going through every step, and on site you’ll have contacts to talk you through it too.


Q: Got it. What’s it actually like to present, though?

A: Delegates often highlight the supportive, enthusiastic atmosphere of London Calling and Nanopore Community Meeting each year. Thomas Nieto, who presented in NCM18’s Spotlight Session, noted how “the reception to my presentation was fantastic and unlike some other forums that I’ve presented at, the questions were challenging, insightful and helpful.” As our conferences bring together people from a wide variety of fields, we encourage our speakers to provide the background and information to ensure any attendee can follow the talk, so that every subject is accessible and informative. We also really encourage discussion and include lots of time in the agenda for networking, providing many opportunities for sharing ideas and starting new collaborations.


Q: What happens after the conference?

A: We love sharing your work with the wider scientific community. That could include your work being featured in the London Calling Review (last year’s review was included with Nature Genetics) used as case studies, in white papers and more. With the video and blog of your talk also available online, the conversations started at London Calling will continue long after the conference wraps up.


Q: How do I know if my work is ready to present?

A: The ways in which nanopore sequencing is used are growing and changing at a very rapid pace, and we want to share the latest projects using our technology. That might mean presenting the work in your new publication, or it might mean sharing how your project has gone so far and inviting discussion of a brand new application or technique. If you have an exciting story to share using nanopore sequencing, we want to hear from you.


Q: What if I’ve never spoken at a conference?

A: That’s no problem at all – you don’t need any prior experience, and we provide as much information as we can to make sure that you feel prepared and enjoy taking part. If you have any more questions about what to expect, do get in touch with our team. There are also loads of videos of our talks online to give you an idea of what to expect. We see many different presenting styles and topics, together making every session engaging and informative each year.


Q: And if I don’t have the funding available?

A: For many of the talks, we are able to cover economy travel, accommodation and any additional costs associated with being at the conference. Also, if you’re planning on presenting your work with nanopore sequencing at conferences not hosted by Oxford Nanopore, we offer a number of bursaries for both posters and oral presentations – you can find out more here.


Q: What if I’m not accepted for a talk this time?

A: Unfortunately, we do have limited space and aren’t able to accept all applications for a talk. However, there are a number of other opportunities available through which we can help spread the word about your projects – including webinars, knowledge exchanges and, of course, future conferences. You can also let us know in your application if you’d like to present your research in the form of a poster.


Q: Ok, sign me up! How do I apply for a talk?

A: You can apply to present at London Calling 2020 here; let us know which you’d be happy to present: a talk, lightning talk or poster, or a mix of these. As part of your application, you’ll be asked to submit an abstract describing what you’ll present; here, we’d love you to tell us a bit about:
- the aims of your project
- how you’re using nanopore sequencing to answer your scientific question
- the results you’ve seen, and what they have revealed
- any conclusions you’ve been able to reach, and what this might mean for your field
- what you plan to do next (if you’re happy to share this)

You can apply to present in the Spotlight Session here; for this session, we’d like you to record a short video, which you can read all about in our guide here.

New to nanopore sequencing and want to see what all the fuss is about? You can apply to attend London Calling 2020 here. Tickets are available at a limited offer price until the 28th February.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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