SEB 2021 Annual Conference

28 February 2021 - By: Sabina Baba

Much has happened since our last Annual Conference – Seville 2019. Who would have known then that it will be quite a while until we will be able to get together again in person, for another great SEB Annual Conference. Although we had to cancel our 2020 annual conference and a lot of uncertainty remains in the fight against the global pandemic, in 2021 we are pleased to announce that our Annual Conference will be going ahead, in a completely virtual format!

Here are all the details on the new meeting format, dates and exciting scientific programme we have lined up for you. 

Unlike our usual in-person conference programme with live sessions running across 4 consecutive days, our 2021 Annual Conference programme has been designed with flexibility and accessibility in mind.

As such we have decided to spread programme across two weeks from 29th June – 8th July. In addition, alongside live talks and Q&A sessions with speakers, to cater for different time zones we will aim to pre-record talks wherever possible for delegates to be able to access these at their convenience. The details of the programme are still being finalised and more information on this will be available soon.



“Organisation of the 2021 SEB Annual conference is well underway and it will be an exciting schedule of events and sessions for our valued members of the Animal Section. Sessions from the postponed 2020 Prague meeting are being carried forward, as is our satellite meeting ‘The Science of Animal Sentience: Refining Experimental Biology’. These are being combined with additional submitted sessions to provide an extremely diverse array of topics and speakers. We are working hard to ensure a balanced and stimulating schedule that will maintain the close-knit community feel that the SEB is known for. 

Along with our session organisers, we have arranged the Animal Section sessions under the umbrella of several themes at the cutting edge of science in experimental biology. An often overlooked but critical effect of climate change is increased environmental variability . We have several sessions addressing this important issue, under the theme of Environmental Fluctuations, examining how animals deal with variable temperatures, salinities, oxygen levels, and many other environmental factors, and how this in turn affects their physiology and behaviour. It is also increasingly realised that for wild animals, parasites and disease play a crucial role in altering animal phenotypes and affecting how they cope with additional stressors. Sessions under the theme of Ecoimmunology will discuss these issues. Finally, modern technological advances have allowed unprecedented data collection and tracking of animal movements in the lab and in the field. Handling and analysing big data can be difficult, however, and sessions within the Physiological and Behavioural Monitoring theme will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with current innovations in equipment and techniques. Each of these themes also have joint sessions with our colleagues in the Cell and Plant section, to further allow for the sharing of multidisciplinary perspectives on these important topics.

I hope to see you at the meeting where you can present your own work, meet new colleagues, and catch up with old friends.”

Shaun Killen
Interim section Chair



David Evans

“The 2021 SEB Annual Conference will be a busy meeting for Cell Biologists with a great line-up of sessions planned by the Cell Section. Early in the meeting, we will be focussing on reproductive mechanisms in plants, with ‘Cellular function and nuclear dynamics in plant reproduction’. Our cross-kingdoms session ‘Dynamic organization of the nucleus across kingdoms' organised by the Nuclear Dynamics Special Interest Group will run throughout the meeting with talks and posters on the structure and function of the nucleus in animals, plants and microbes. Talks in this session on the plant nucleus will be used to launch the ‘InDepth Academy’- a novel venture by the InDepth (Impact of Nuclear Domains on Gene Expression and Plant Traits) COST Action , providing a repository of printed and video technical resources. We are delighted to be joining up with the Plant Section to host ‘Cellular aspects of plant hormone action’ and a general poster session for plant and cell biologists.  With presentations from two years of Cell Section President Medallists and plenary lecturers this promises to be an exciting meeting.”

David Evans
Cell Section Chair



Stephen Kepinski

“SEB 2021 Annual Conference offers a compelling and diverse set of plant science sessions and talks for plant scientists. One of the strengths of the SEB meeting is that the programme is almost entirely community-driven , ensuring that it meets the needs and interests of our members and for SEB 2021 the Plant Section has selected an exciting set of sessions falling into three broad themes. First, in the area of plant development, we will cover recent developments on the radial signalling mechanisms governing root development as well as a joint Cell and Plant Section session on the cell biology of plant hormone action. Second, we have four sessions covering responses to the abiotic and biotic environment, including circadian regulation of plant growth and development; temperature signalling and response; retrograde signalling in environmental sensing; and finally, the role of volatiles in mediating plant-plant, plant-microbe and plant-insect interactions. The last broad theme explores the ways in which plant science can contribute to the grand challenges of food security and climate neutrality, with interdisciplinary sessions on plant phenotyping; the development of future crops and agricultural systems; natural variation in photosynthesis and CO2 assimilation; and new opportunities in Cannabis research. In addition to these scientific research sessions there is a programme of plenary talks that will include talks from our President Medallists, our Woolhouse Lecturers and well as a range of networking events. All in all, SEB 2021 promises to be engaging meeting full of science and opportunities to connect with friends and colleagues from around the world and we look forward to welcoming you.”

Stefan Kepinsky
Plant Section Chair




Throughout 2020, the SEB’s Outreach, Education and Diversity (OED) offering has rapidly expanded, providing increasing opportunities for members to extend the reach of their science and develop their professional skill set. Next years’ Annual Conference will be no exception. We will be very pleased to welcome Sense about Science to run  career workshops aimed at encouraging researchers to make their voices heard in public debates about science, and cover a range of key issues from science policy, media representation, peer review, to public engagement.

In previous years, a highlight of the conference has been the Diversity Dinner. Although in 2021 this will look a little different being virtual, we will still be welcoming a speaker to share their experience and expertise in this area. Our guest speaker will be Katie Perry from the Daphne Jackson Trust: a leading organisation dedicated to providing support through mentoring, retraining and research, for STEM researchers returning to their careers following extended career breaks for starting a family, caring or health reasons. We will hear how the Trust has helped over 400 individuals on their journey back into STEM research careers. There will also be opportunities through-out the conference for attendees to explore and discuss a wide range of topics pertaining to diversity and inclusivity.

It has been a difficult year for everyone, so more than ever we are very much looking forward to connecting with all SEB members throughout the week.

Rebecca Ellerington,
Outreach, Education and Diversity Manager


Abstract submission for the conference is now open. Visit our dedicated conference web-page to see a list of sessions taking place and to submit your abstract.

Abstract submission deadline: 15 March 2021.

Each year at our Annual Conference the SEB celebrates the achievements of our young and established researchers with a number of awards.

Young Scientist Award
The Young Scientist Award is open to all postgraduates and postdocs within 6 years of completing their PhD, who wish to showcase their talent and cutting-edge research.

There are three prizes per Scientific Section (i.e. Animal-Cell and Plant-Cell). To enter the competition simply specify you wish to be considered when submitting your abstract for the meeting (deadline 8 March).

Irene Manton Poster Prize
The Irene Manton poster prize competition is open to students and early career researchers and a prize is awarded to the best poster in each section (animal biology, cell biology, plant biology).

To enter the competition simply specify you wish to be considered when submitting your abstract for the conference. The deadline for entering is 16 March 2021.

A preliminary review of the abstracts received for the Annual Conference will determine which abstracts have been accepted for poster presentations. Accepted authors will be required to submit a final PDF of their poster by 31 May 2021.

President’s Medal
At our 2021 Annual Conference we are delighted to be hosting talks from our 2020 as well as our 2021 President Medallists.

Find out more about our 2020 President Medallists on page xxx and keep an eye out on our next issue of the SEB magazine and our website where we will be featuring our 2021 winners.

There are a number of funding opportunities available to students and Early Career Scientists to support their attendance at the meeting: the Company of Biologists travel grant and the SEB Annual Conference travel grant.

Both grant schemes are now offering support with registration fees for attending online conferences.

Find out more about eligibility for these schemes and how to apply at

The SEB team and Council are still working hard to finalise all the details of the scientific and social programme to ensure our 2021 Annual Conference is an engaging and exciting meeting. Please do keep an eye out for updates in our newsletters, social media and website!

We hope you will join us and look forward to “seeing you” there!


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