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On Thursday 17th August 2017 PhD and undergraduate summer school students from Norwich and Cambridge (pictured below) met for a symposium featuring talks from students, two prominent key note speakers, poster competitions and networking. Student delegates who attended were from a range of institutes with research predominantly with a plant or microbial theme; institutes included John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, Quadram Institute, Earlham Institute, University of East Anglia, University of Cambridge and National Institute of Agricultural Botany. The day featured 8 varied and insightful talks from students across these institutes, detailing their current PhD work which lead to interesting and some times unforeseen questions from the mixed audience. During Ben White’s presentation (EI) discussing ‘Identifying sex determination loci in the highly heterozygous white guinea yam’ one stu dent exclaimed how she had never realised a sweet potato and a yam are different things, which then lead into a stimulating discussion during the next coffee break on the problems of engaging the public into discussing where our food comes from. Two highly prestigious scientists also came to present on the day. Prof Neil Bruce from the University of York lead us through his decade long journey of work on the phytoremediation of explosives, with the advice that one of the advantages of this project is that you visit strange and dangerous places; old TNT manufacturing sites and secret US army military bases! Prof Dame Carol Robinson from University of Oxford end ed the day with an inspirational look at her scientific career, with her talk being open, honest and passionate. She spoke about how you need to find the right balance and that ‘there’s no one path through science, follow what you love’. We are incredibly grateful for each of these scientists joining us for the day. Poster competitions were also featured at NoCaSS, all of which were sponsored by various organisations, including the BSPP. The winner of the BSPP ‘Plant microorganism interactions” category was Pilar Corredor-Moreno for her work on wheat yellow rust. During the lunch break, we were treated to a networking activity by OpenPlant, who also sponsored the lunch, and gave a short presentation about their funding opportunities for collaborations between Norwich and Cambridge students. Their talk and all the others that day were graphically recorded by the talented Rebecca Osborne, giving a creative edge to each session. We hope NoCaSS will continue next year at Cambridge to provide another platform for PhD students to share their work with one another, as well as socialise in a comfortable atmosphere. We are extremely grateful to the BSPP for their sponsorship contribution, enabling NoCaSS 2017 to be such a success.
Catherine Jacott John Innes Centre