From June 9-14 I traveled to Tuscany, Italy to present a poster at the Microfluidics GRC. My poster was on the topic of automated identification of GEDI-captured cells from fluorescent microscope images, and I had good discussions with other attendees at the poster session. The rigorous scientific content of the conference, the remoteness of the location, and the informality of the atmosphere promoted frequent opportunities for meaningful interactions with students, post-docs, professors, and industry scientists.
Leaders in the field gave talks on fluidic control, paper microfluidics, microfluidic acoustics, centrifugally-driven microfluidics, diagnostics, commercialization, and next-gen sequencing, and after each talk, ample time was allotted for discussion. I particularly enjoyed learning about paper microfluidics and centrifugally-driven microfluidics: two technologies with which I have had very little experience before this conference.
The idea of open-source science came up in discussion, spawning an ongoing debate for the remainder of the conference. For example, proponents discussed how open source could lower the barrier to entry for scientific discovery and increase the rate of discovery. Opponents questioned how credit would be assigned, whether this compromises students’ developing careers, and whether full disclosure discourages formation of startup companies and collaborations with industry.