London Calling 2024 Spotlight Session

The Spotlight Session provides a main-stage platform for early-career scientists using nanopore sequencing to showcase their research. Here, we'll go through how it works, tips from previous Spotlight Session speakers, and how you can apply for the Spotlight Session at London Calling 2024.

Apply to Spotlight Session

How it works

If you're an early-career researcher, we’d love you to tell us how nanopore sequencing is changing your field of research, and where you think genomic research will be in 10 years, for the chance to present in the Spotlight Session at London Calling 2024.

In short

From the applications submitted, three speakers are invited to present in the Spotlight Session.
First, each speaker presents a two-minute pitch, providing a sneak peek of their full talk. After this, delegates are invited to vote for their favourite pitch via the conference app or on the virtual platform.
The winner of the vote is revealed later that day and will present their full talk on the main plenary stage the following day. The two runner-up speakers will present their talks in a session later on in the conference, so that everyone will have the chance to see the full presentations.

Your pitch

In the form of a two-minute pitch, you have the chance to tell delegates exactly why they should vote to see your full talk on the plenary stage. Your pitch acts a bit like a trailer for the exciting work you’ll be presenting, with previous speaker’s pitches featuring everything from a theft in Hobbiton to a poem about Bordetella pertussis
As our conferences bring together a wide range of research areas, it’s important to keep your pitch (and your full talk) broad, to ensure that anyone can follow the science you’re presenting.

Voting

After the pitches, delegates have 60 seconds to vote for the talk they’d like to see in the plenary track, via the online conference platform. When the votes are in, the winner is revealed and their full talk is shared with the delegates.
After the pitches, delegates (in person and online) will have 60 seconds to vote for the talk that they’d like to see on the main stage. When the votes are in, the winner is revealed, and they will present their full talk to the delegate audience.

The full talks

All three Spotlight Session participants share their full talks at the conference: the winning talk is shared straight after the winner is announced, as part of the main agenda, and the runner-up talks will take place later in the conference. The full talks are 10 minutes long, plus 5 minutes for questions from the audience.

What happens after the talks?

All the Spotlight Session talks will be recorded and made available to view after the conference, both via the online conference platform and then on our website

And it’s not just about the winning. In fact, Nanopore Community Meeting 2018 Spotlight runner-up Nicola Hall went on to deliver a plenary talk for London Calling 2019.

How can I apply?

For your application, we’d like you to send us your video pitch, answering the following questions:

  1. How is nanopore sequencing changing your field of research?
  2. Where do you think the field of genomics research will be 10 years from now?
  3. Why would you love to present in the Spotlight Session?

If you are selected to take part, this is the video pitch that will be shared at the conference. You can also add a written abstract to your application to provide more information on the work with nanopore sequencing you’d like to present.

The deadline for Spotlight Session submission is Sunday 14th January 2024 at 23.59 hrs (UK time).

Advice from past presenters

To support you in preparing for the session, here's some advice on pitching from previous Spotlight Session winners:

Lewis Stevens

'You might look at the other speakers and think their science looks more interesting on paper, but that's not what matters here. What matters is giving a pitch that demonstrates that you're about to give an interesting and engaging talk. Here are my tips:

  1. Make it accessible to a (very) general audience. The audience will be composed of scientists from all sorts of fields (human genetics, ecology, evolutionary biology, etc.) and most won’t know much about what you work on. You should therefore write your pitch almost as if you’ll be presenting to the general public. Give practice talks to people who know nothing about your field. Get rid of jargon. Keep it simple.
  2. Leave the audience wanting more. It’s tempting to make the pitch a shortened version of your talk with all the results included. But, if you tell the audience everything during the pitch, why would they want to hear more? More importantly, limiting how much time you spend talking about the results gives you more time to sell the question/problem. I spent more than half my time getting the audience hooked on my question, before explaining what I did to solve it and then briefly hinting at what I found.
  3. Speak with confidence and enthusiasm. A large part of pulling this off is practice - if you know your pitch like the back of your hand, you can focus less on what you’re saying and more on how you’re saying it.'

Roxanne Zascavage

'This is what I would suggest from my experience:

  1. Keep it interesting. Give the audience some excitement in your topic that makes them want to hear more.
  2. Don't try to cover your whole talk in 2 minutes. This kinda goes with #1. You want to tell them why your talk is going to be fascinating to listen to rather than hitting all the key points of your talk in your pitch.'

Thomas Nieto

'For a successful pitch I would suggest:

  1. Make a slick video presentation, ideally in your target working environment, which demonstrates both the application of technology and your enthusiasm for the project.
  2. Practice, practice, practice! There’s not much time to pitch, so you want to get it right.
  3. Be positive and excited about your project. Show the audience that you’re really invested in it. The audience will want you to do well and are genuinely very interested to hear what you have to say.'