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Announcing ESOP - the Electronic Symposium on Protistology - May 5-6, 2020

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The cancellation of scientific meetings around the world this year has created a vacuum in our field in the lost opportunities to interact with our friends and colleagues. However, it is also arguable that travel to meetings was becoming both an excessive burden on our time and on the planet. Like it or not, the coronavirus has also forced most of us to quickly become proficient at remote meeting technology, so the global crisis is also an opportunity for us to reevaluate some aspects of scientific interactions.

To fill this gap in a small way, and also publicly experiment with virtual interactions, we are announcing ESOP - the Electronic Symposium on Protistology.

The pilot ESOP meeting will take place as two relatively short live sessions, May 5-6 from 8AM-10AM Pacific Daylight Time (11AM-1PM Eastern Daylight Time / 4PM-6PM GMT+1). We have a diverse lineup of 10 great speakers representing many aspects of protistology, listed below.

The meeting platform will be Zoom. We are exploring ways to simultaneously live stream and record, but through Zoom participants will be able to take part in question and discussion periods following each talk. Technical instructions for participants are being prepared.

Our aim was to act quickly, since our friends and colleagues are stuck in isolation right now. We are creating a web site which will be housed at and live shortly. We will also advertise through relevant scientific societies, with their permission, but in the meantime wanted to let everyone know to hold the date and time. Please feel free to forward this as much as you wish.

Lastly, the ESOP idea was to stage a short meeting that mitigates as many of the drawbacks to lack of travel as possible, and even uses a few of the advantages (e.g. we are not tied to an “all day” schedule). But ultimately we hope this is a pilot project and that other groups will improve on the basic outline to launch their own mini-meetings in the near future (especially since we cannot stage a live event that caters to all time zones). We also hope by forcing us to try virtual meetings it might open the door to thinking about incorporating some aspect of this into future in-person meetings too (e.g. allowing for virtual registration access to some parts of regular meetings in the future).

Thanks and take care,

Patrick Keeling (University of British Columbia)

Javier del Campo (University of Miami)

Fabien Burki  (Uppsala University)

Meeting Program (All times Pacific Daylight Time):

Tuesday May 5


Welcome from the meeting organizers - and a challenge to future meeting organizers


Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo (Institut de Biologia Evolutiva & Universitat de Barcelona)

Title: TBA


Ross Waller (University of Cambridge)

Title: A subcellular atlas of Toxoplasma reveals the functional and evolutionary context of the proteome


Raúl González-Pech (University of South Florida & University of Queensland)

Title: Can symbiosis drive genome evolution of Symbiodiniaceae?


Susannah Porter (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Title: Insights into eukaryogenesis from the fossil record


Varsha Mathur (University of British Columbia)

Title: Plastid evolution in deep-branching apicomplexans

Wednesday May 6


Eva Nowack (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)

Title: TBA


Julius Lukeš (Institute of Parasitology, Czech Academy of Science & University of South Bohemia)

Title: TBA


Ben Larson (University of California, San Francisco & Berkeley)

Title: Regulation of form in multicellular choanoflagellates and the evolutionary cell biology of morphogenesis


Alexandra Worden (GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel)

Title: Connecting individual eukaryotic cells with partners in the sea


Yana Eglit (Dalhousie University)

Title: Meteora, “Protist X”, and what we can learn from culturing the diversity of eukaryotes



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