Confirmed plenary presenters are: 


Emma Allen-Vercoe, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, Canada


"Our microbes are part of us, and we should consider ourselves their guardians and caretakers. If we look after them, they will help to look after us."


Emma Allen-Vercoe is a Professor at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Guelph University and founder of NuBiyota, a biotech company to create Microbiome therapeutic products as well as scientific leader of the microbiome team of N of One: Autism Research Foundation. Her research is focused on the study of the normal human gut microbiota, both in disease and in health. She has an international reputation for being able to culture previously ‘unculturable’ anaerobic microbes in order to better understand their biology. To do this, she developed a model gut system (dubbed ‘Robogut’) to emulate the conditions of the human gut and allow communities of microbes to grow together, as they do naturally. 


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Seth Bordenstein, Departments of Biological Sciences and Pathology, Microbiology, & Immunology, Vanderbilt University, USA


"Microbes are our ancient mothers."


Seth Bordenstein is an Assoicate Professor at the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. He is the founding director of The Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative and the worldwide HHMI-initiated science education program Discover the Microbes Within! He is also Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation. His laboratory endeavors to understand the evolutionary and genetic principles that shape symbiotic interactions between animals, microbes, and viruses and the major applications of these interactions to human health. Towards these goals, the lab employs hypothesis-driven approaches to study intimate symbioses between arthropods and obligate intracellular bacteria that modify sexual reproduction and facultative symbioses between animals and gut microbes that impact animal health, fitness, and evolution. 


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Paolina Garbeva, Netherlands Insitute of Ecology, The Netherlands


"Infochemicals are the world's most widespread communication medium" 


Paolina Garbeva is a senior researcher at the Netherlands Insitute of Ecology, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Her research focuses in understand the fundamental mechanisms of microbial chemical interactions and communication by looking at secondary metabolites (both volatile and water-soluble) as signalling compounds or as suppressive agents in interference competition. Using omics-based tools, advanced analytical chemistry and novel imaging techniques, her research aims to decipher, explore and exploit the so far unknown belowground microbe-microbe and plant-microbe chemical  interactions and communication. Understanding the belowground inter-kingdom (bacteria, protists, fungi, plants) interactions is crucial for assessing the functioning of soil ecosystems, which underpins soil and plant health


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IMG_3794Mónica Medina, Department of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA


"We aim to improve conservation efforts by better understanding how corals behave under different scenarios"


Mónica Medina is a Professor of Biology at the Department of biology at The Pennsylvania State University. Her group group has been studying Cnidarian-algal-microbial interactions for several years. They use a combination of ecological, physiological, and genomic techniques to understand  these interactions.Prof. Medina more recent projects are comparative, and she hope to address a series of evolutionary questions in the different invertebrate systems she is studying.



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David Relman, Department of Medicine - Med/Infectious Diseases, Stanford, USA


"We are born ~ 100% human but die > 90% microbial​"


David A. Relman a Professor in Medicine, and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He is also Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. His research focus is the human indigenous microbiota and on diversity, assembly, stability, and resilience of the human microbial ecosystem, as well as the identification of previously-unrecognized microbial agents of disease. He has advised the U.S. Government on emerging infectious diseases, human-microbe interactions, and future biological threats. He is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), NIH, a member of the Intelligence Community Studies Board at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and Past President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and a Member of the National Academy of Medicine.