Symposium 2021 – now fully virtual!

Key Deadlines
What Do I Need to Do?
Registration and Presentation Applications
Abstract Criteria
Viewing Posters & Using Slack
Image Competition
BBSRC Themes

Key Deadlines

  • Registration – opens 4th October, closes 22nd October.
  • Abstract submission – opens 4th October, closes 22nd October.
    Talk types will be confirmed by the 1st November.
  • Poster and Short Talk submission deadline – 22nd November.


The annual White Rose Mechanistic Biology DTP Symposium will be held fully online on the morning of Monday 13th December and in the afternoon of Tuesday 14th December. This two day event is designed to celebrate the work of our 3rd and 4th year students, so presentations will collectively span a diverse range of research topics.  This year the symposium themes are Science in Entrepreneurship and Industry, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. 

Keynote speakers: During the event we will have a couple of fantastic keynote speaker presentations, these will support our themes of Science in Entrepreneurship and Industry, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusions. For more information about the keynote talks, please go to the Presentations section.

Due to the new government guidelines to work from home starting Monday 13th December, it is with a heavy heart we have had to announce that the 2021 DTP symposium will be hosted fully online. The symposium is mandatory for all White Rose DTP, and while this is not the symposium we had hoped for, we believe this is the safest way possible to host this event – and we hope you enjoy this now fully virtual showcase of the great work going on within our cohort. The Monday 13th December agenda will remain unchanged. However, the Tuesday 14th symposium will be moved to a fully virtual event with the same schedule, with talks to start at 13:00 and end at 16:30. 

What Do I Need to Do?

This symposium is a fantastic opportunity to share the amazing research done by our 3rd and 4th Year students with the entire cohort. It is mandatory for 1st and 2nd Year students to attend the symposiums but students will not be asked to present at the event. 3rd Year students will submit posters which will be presented virtually at the symposium. 4th Year students will submit abstracts which will then be assessed by the symposium organising committee to determine which type of presentation they will give, either; Research presentation (10 minutes), Flash presentation (2 minutes), PIPS presentation (10 minutes) or a Poster presentation. 

Please note it is not mandatory for 5th Year students (final year students with extensions), NPIF or iCASE students to attend the symposium, although they are more than welcome to attend. Students of any year group who have completed their PIPS are also welcome to apply to give a PIPS talk. They will need to express their interest and provide a brief summary of their PIPS work, which will be reviewed with 4th Year applications, depending on demand priority will be given to 4th Year students.

For more information see Registrations and Presentation Applications, Abstract Criteria and Presentations below.

Registration and Presentation Applications

Registration for the event will open on the 4th October and close on the 22nd October.  

Abstract submission will open on the 4th October and close on the 22nd October. The DTP Student Representatives will confirm which talk type you have been selected for by the 1st November. 

Emails for registration, abstract submission (4th years) and PIPs talk submission (3rd years) have been sent.

Abstract Criteria

Talk types will be determined by the symposium organising committee who will mark the 250-word abstracts using the following criteria:

1) Is the abstract accessible to a broader STEM audience? 

2) Are the results interesting, novel and/or exciting? 

3) Are the conclusions clear and concise? Do they reflect the aims? 

4) Are the impacts and value of the findings clear?


The annual symposium will host multiple different types of talks, specific details of each are found below:

  • Research presentations (4th Years) – These are 8 minute live talks focused on ongoing or completed research, followed by 2 minutes of questions.
  • Flash presentations (4th Years) – 2 minute pre-recorded short talks focussed on ongoing or completed research with no following questions.
  • PIPS presentations – These are 8 minute live presentations about a student’s completed professional placement, followed by 2 minutes of questions.
  • Poster presentations (3rd & 4th Years) – A PDF poster focussed on completed or ongoing research, along with an optional short video talk describing the poster. A Slack channel will be available for others to get in touch and ask more about the research.

Keynote speakers

Equality, Diversity and inclusion keynote: Dr Izzy Jayasinghe (Monday 13th, 12:20 – 12:55, Zoom)

Dr Izzy Jayasinghe is a Senior Researcher in the University of Sheffield and a trans woman of colour and a lesbian. Having worked in five universities over the last 11 years, Izzy has realised the potential for universities and academia to provide an oasis for both LGBTQI+ people as well as people of ethnic minorities. Izzy currently holds one of the prestigious research awards “UKRI Future Leader Fellowships”. Her research focuses on understanding the structural basis of cellular signalling, and she also works towards democratising technology so that it is accessible to everyone. Working around her scientific research, she has focused on various activities, campaigns and written articles to both promote the inclusion of women, LGBTQI+ and BAME people in universities (particularly in areas such as STEMM) and to fight off disinformation. Izzy’s personal mission is to break the stigma around these under-represented groups and mould our universities into inclusive spaces where everybody can thrive. Izzy is looking forward to speaking at the DTP Symposium to sharing about the positive changes that we can expect to see in the academic research and funding landscape over the next few years.

Entrepreneurship in Science Q&A panel (Tuesday 14th, 14:40 – 15:10, Live from York + Zoom live-stream).

Tim Craggs, University of Sheffield

Dr Tim Craggs is a lecturer and PI at the University of Sheffield. He is an internationally renowned expert in the development and application of single-molecule FRET methods and in the detailed biophysical characterisation of protein folding, and protein-nucleic acid interactions. As a champion for open science and accessibility, Tim founded the spin-out company Exciting Instruments in order to bring his group’s developments in single-molecule spectroscopy to the broadest possible user base.

Dawn Coverley, University of York

Professor Dawn Coverley is a principal investigator at University of York and co-founder and non-executive director of spin out company Cizzle Biotech. Dawn’s academic research focuses on the protein CIZ1 and its functions in cells ranging from DNA replication to epigenetic regulation. Cizzle Biotech’s principle goal is to investigate a cancer specific splice-variant of CIZ1 known as CIZ1B, for its use as a potential biomarker in lung cancer, to help earlier diagnosis and therefore a better prognosis for patients. 

Joe Ward, Medicines Discovery Catapult

Dr Joe Ward studied for his PhD at the University of Leeds focusing on positive-sense RNA virus, FMDV. Now he works in science innovation to improve diagnostics for diseases such as SARS-CoV2. Additionally, he consults with small businesses to communicate what scientists need from technology and how to streamline assays.

Science in industry keynote: Dr Ross Overman

Ross graduated from the University of York with a degree in biochemistry and holds a PhD in Biomolecular Science from the University of Manchester. He is currently a Principal Scientist at Leaf Expression Systems, Norwich, which specialises in plant-based protein expression and production, including vaccine production. Ross leads the downstream processing and quality control activities. He is involved with planning and coordinating new projects, working closely with clients and collaborators to produce reagents for diagnostic applications, research activities and novel therapeutics. Prior to joining Leaf Expression Systems, Ross worked for 16 years in the pharmaceutical industry (AstraZeneca) as a molecular biologist, protein biochemist and project manager. Ross is looking forward to sharing his experience across two different science industries with the White Rose DTP Cohort. 

Poster Criteria

This year, posters will be viewed online on slack (the same platform from the 2020 symposium). As in previous years, prizes for the best posters will be awarded at the end of the symposium! 

Poster Criteria:

  • PDF
  • Good quality graphics and text
  • Text large enough to read without zooming in too much & easy to navigate on-screen
  • Aspect ratio of 1:1.414 (this is the aspect ratio of standard paper sizes – A4, A0 etc)
  • Portrait orientation

Poster Content:

  • Appropriate logos (BBSRC, White Rose, your university)
  • Poster title (keep it concise!)
  • Names (your name in font that stands out, supervisor, collaborators) and institutions
  • Introduction
  • Methodology (optional)
  • (the main content is up to you, but your figures should be the dominant feature)
  • Conclusions
  • References

As the poster session will be in a virtual format, when uploading your poster you will also have the opportunity to upload either a short (1-3 minute) voice clip or video introducing your poster and emphasising the key findings. Information regarding uploading of your poster will be available closer to the time.


Programme Overview:

Day 1: Monday 13th December, 09:30 – 13:00, Zoom. 

  • Day 1’s virtual event will be filled with research talks from our final year DTP Post Graduate Researchers, highlighting the excellent research conducted throughout the DTP. There will be plenty of breaks throughout the morning for viewing 3rd and 4th year posters via the platform Slack (details to be circulated nearer the time). 
  • We are particularly excited to finish the morning by welcoming the keynote speaker Dr Izzy Jayasinghe to talk to us about her work towards Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM and academia.

Day 2: Tuesday 14th December, 13:00 – 16:30, Zoom

  • Day 2 welcomes attendees to the second half of our online DTP event. We will start the day with more research talks and PIPS talks, with PGRs sharing their placement experiences.
  • New this year is an Entrepreneurship in Science Q&A panel where we are pleased to be joined by Prof Dawn Coverley from the University of York to discuss creation of her own spin-out Biotech company Cizzle Biotech Ltd, Dr Joe Ward formerly of the University of Leeds will discuss his work in the COVID lighthouse labs, and Dr Tim Craggs of the University of Sheffield will share his journey to create his spin-out company Exciting Instruments. We will then welcome questions about their endeavours from the audience (in-person and on Zoom) as part of the Q&A panel discussion.
  • Finally we will close the symposium by hearing from our Industry Keynote speaker, Dr Ross Overman, who will share his career journey across Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology from his current position in Leaf Expression Systems.
  • Full agenda details are below.

Viewing Posters & Using Slack

As part of our hybrid symposium format the Poster Sessions and Networking on the virtual day will take place in the communications platform ‘Slack’. If you’ve registered for the symposium, you will be invited to join the Slack group a few days before the event, allowing you to get used to it in advance and giving you even more time to browse posters. We’ll send instructions along with our invitation to join the Slack group so you’ll know what to do.

See the video instructions from last year by Leeds student rep Molly Patterson below for guidance on how to navigate the platform:

Since last year, Slack has changed slightly – if you now want to edit your profile, you need to select ‘Profile’, then select ‘Edit profile’. There is also a new feature allowing you to insert a ‘What I do’ section, where you can put, for example, your university, year of study and any other relevant information that you want people to know about you!

Image Competition

Thank you to everyone who has submitted images for our Symposium Imaging Competition. We have chosen our favourite images for use in our promotional material (hopefully you’ve spotted them!). Here are the winning entries (in no particular order):

Katie Gelder: Phase-separated condensates of mutant CREB Binding Protein (green) in the nucleus of transfected HEK293T cells (blue).
Pots with barley growing in them
Luke Fountain: Panel of barley cultivars grown using an automated watering system to screen for variation in soil nitrification and denitrification.
two strands of DNA
Rosalind Latham: 3D computer aided graphic of a DNA origami nanotile, to be ligated to a gene-targeting construct to prevent random integration of the construct into the plant genome.

BBSRC Themes

The DTP’s research addresses four of the BBSRC’s core strategic themes. Posters will be sub-divided into these themes:

Advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery

1) Understanding the rules of life (formerly World Class Underpinning Bioscience)

2) Transformative technologies (formerly Exploiting New Ways of Working)

Tackling strategic challenges

3) Bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food (formerly Agriculture and Food Security)

4) Bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth (formerly Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy)

The themes were updated by the BBSRC in 2019. For details, read Forward Look for UK Bioscience and see the Research Themes page (on this website).

Symposium 2019

More information coming soon: looking forward to seeing you soon!