Written by Jennifer Ann Black, preLights Ambassador and postdoctoral researcher in the Tosi Lab, Faculty of Medicine Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Caxambu, a quaint city in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil), is the traditional destination for the Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society of Protozoology (or ‘SBPz’). And this year, hosted in the seasoned Hotel Gloria, Caxambu welcomed the 38th meeting. Protozoologists from across Brazil and beyond met to discuss science, drink Caipirinhas and enjoy the delicious local food.
The meeting kicked off on a high note with the awarding of the Samuel Pessoa Award. Prof. Dr. Samuel Pessoa was both a medic and renowned parasitologist in Brazil during the last century whose important work examined the burden of endemic parasitic diseases and shaped public health policies. Thus, it is fitting that this award commemorates prominent protozoologists and their contributions to Brazilian science and society. This year Prof. Edgar Marcelino de Carvalho (Federal University of Bahia) received the prestigious award for his works on the pathology of Leishmania braziliensis, one of the etiological agents of Leishmaniasis. His talk was certainly a highlight of the meeting, filling almost every single seat in the conference room!
One aspect of SBPz I really enjoyed this year was the brainstorming session. Every year, time and space are set aside for the community to highlight and discuss a current issue in science. During this session, different ways are discussed in which we can together address the issue while growing stronger as a community; we are few in number compared to other areas of science.
Last year we debated the rising cost of publications for scientists in South America. This year, I was given the opportunity to host a brainstorming session, as preLights Ambassador, on preprint publishing in the biological sciences. For me, this session was one of the highlights of the conference. I found the discussions insightful and animated as we, as a community, weighed up the pros and cons of this form of publishing and discussed how we, as researchers, want our findings to be communicated to our colleagues and the public. I hope to see more and more preprints emerge from the protozoology community here in Brazil over the coming months and years.
Later that day, we enjoyed the first of what would be two lively poster sessions showcasing works involving all sorts of protozoan organisms, from free living to disease-causing. Wandering around the poster session, I found it refreshing to see many posters from undergraduate and Master’s students; this conference has done a great job including scientists from all career stages.
On the final day, the conference was closed by an awards ceremony during which prizes were presented for the best talks (Walter Colli Awards) and the best posters (Zigman Brener Awards). In fact, this year we were joined by Prof. Dr Walter Colli himself, another giant of Brazilian protozoology.
I wish to thank the organising committee for another great meeting; I’m already looking forwards to next year which will mark the 50th year of the SBPz!