Change is a sign of life, and that’s true for societies too. Even without any extra effort, there were more conference participants than ever before, our auditorium was not the usual one, and the structure of the programme was a little different. The company presentations were not in a separate session and our general assembly was part of the Friday afternoon programme.
The real change, however, was in what we have been working for for twenty years. In at least one-third of the presentations, the aim was not to present the results of the presenter, achieved to a greater or lesser extent by microscopic techniques, but to demonstrate the advantages of the techniques and methods used to answer a given question, to show the potential they offer, to recommend ways of implementing them and to draw attention to the difficulties to be avoided. To share what is interesting and important to another microscopist, even if the real significance of the results just presented may not be clear to him in all its details. Although we have had speakers in the past who have had this goal in mind, it seems that we have finally made a breakthrough!
This conference was created several decades ago by people who love microscopy, who wanted to know its development and potential beyond the possibilities of their own research field, and who thought that this common interest could be as strong a basis for an annual meeting as any research topic. The fact that for two decades or so there have been no separate sessions for material and life sciences is proof of this. And that finally becoming commonplace the drive to present what another microscopist can learn most from, is a great success.
But let us return to the programme, which started with our invited speakers.
After a short presentation about his institute, Professor Paulo Ferreira, who works and teaches in Portugal and the United States, gave a talk on the study of energy conversion by catalysing nanoparticles using advanced electron microscopy methods. Even if the details of his presentation were not understood by all life scientists, the purpose and importance of the study were not in doubt. Professor Ferreira’s expertise in more than just his own field of research was confirmed by the questions he asked after several lectures. We were particularly grateful for the fact that he listened to the lectures of the young speakers and asked them, too. As he said, he was also able to follow the lectures held in Hungarian with the help of the English subtitles, which were always sufficient to understand the point. He also thought it was a good idea to alternate the topics.
Our other invited speaker, Csaba Ádori, came from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Although his microscopic images and videos were not helped by the poor resolution of the projector, they still showed his outstanding excellence in light-sheet microscopy. This technique was the subject of an excellent lecture by one of its pioneers, Professor Ernst Stelzer, before the epidemic. However, we have never heard any details of how to make tissues and organs transparent for this method. Csaba’s amazing images and videos were not envied, only because he also shared with us the challenge of achieving such results.
From the invited lecture of our respected colleague István Dódony, who was awarded the Eötvös wreath a few months ago, even a person who has never worked with a microscope understood that every image carries data, so anyone who makes such little changes to the original image, such as increasing contrast or illumination, and then calculates the pixel data, is falsifying the measurement. Because microscopy, for all its beauty, is increasingly about the data behind the pixels, it was good to hear this for everyone, whether they work in life or in material science!
The title of Péter Horváth‘s (SzBK and Helsinki) fascinating talk was a similar reference: Life behind the pixels. The impact of his talk was reflected not only by the many questions asked afterwards but also by the comment from a member of the audience that it was a great thing and we should be grateful that he had come to us.
It is true. We are very lucky. I don’t think there are many small societies that have had as many world leaders in their field of research invited to their conferences as we have had in the last 20 years. Perhaps I am not wrong to say that they come in the hope that their participation and their presentations will be a real inspiration to the audience and, above all, a stimulus to younger people to achieve excellence.
Young Lecturers Competition
The five-minute time limit was respected by most of the 18 speakers, and those who didn’t certainly hurt their chances of scoring points. All in all, it was good quality and, partially thanks to the session chairs, an enjoyable session. The winners were decided by an online public vote.
The winner was Zsombor Molnár (University of Pannon), who won a grant of €250 from HSM to attend a microscopy conference.
Special prizes – a certificate and a bottle of quality wine – were awarded to Dóra Anett Máté-Schwarcz (KOKI), Krisztina Balázs-Németh (SE), Ádám Soós (SE) and Enkhbileg Enkhjin (ELTE) for their beautiful presentations and their answers to the questions, which demonstrated their thorough knowledge of their research topic.
During the general assembly on Friday afternoon, András Szigethy (Technoorg Linda) informed us about the Árpád Barna Award they are going to establish. It is possible that next year we will be able to hear the first winner of the prize.
Almost all the presentations on the Saturday morning program, regardless of the research topic, focused on some microscopic method, so our conference could not have ended better.
We would like to thank all our speakers, the session chairs who took their tasks seriously and helped both speakers and audience, our supporting companies and their speakers, and Gábor Steinbach, who with the initial help of László Barna, revamped the conference website and is continuously working on improving it.