ProSynFest 2020 held in Córdoba

Lukas Marx

University of Portsmouth


I am very grateful to the Challenger Society of Marine Science to have awarded me with a travel award towards the participation of the ProSynFest 2020 held in Córdoba, Spain from the 16th to 19th of March 2022. Thanks to the award I was able to attend this highly specialized meeting under the theme ‘Celebrating the decades of research since the discovery of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus’. After two years of conferences and meetings held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic it was a real pleasure to attend in person and to present my poster ‘Pro and Syn in the subtropical North Atlantic’s P cycle – Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus and their role in phosphorus cycling in the subtropical North Atlantic’ to an audience of internationally renowned researchers.

Following a workshop on culturing and genetics of cyanobacteria on the first day, the second day started with talks on ‘Ecology, distribution and dynamics: past, present and future’, including my personal highlight of the conference; a keynote speech by Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm, discoverer of Prochlorococcus. During this session I presented my poster and had really helpful and constructive discussions with other participants and could attract a lot of interest on my work. The third day was dedicated to the session on ‘Physiology, gene regulations and metabolism’, followed by the session on ‘Predation and trophic interactions’ on the last day of the conference. Although not all talks were quite my topic, they however were more than interesting and I can include a lot of the knowledge I gained through those sessions in my work.

As this was my first conference I attended in person, networking was a great part and big personal aim of the meeting. During several coffee breaks and especially the organised social events in the evenings I was able to get in contact with many peers from all over the world, to discuss, simply get to know other researchers from masters to professor level and to put myself and my work out there. The social events were not only helpful in networking but highlighted part of Córdoba’s history with visiting an equestrian horse show at the royal stables and the Mezquita, a UNESCO world heritage site, which combines a mosque and a cathedral dating back to the 8th century.

Overall I could not be happier to have had the opportunity to attend and participate in the ProSynFest 2020 and have to thank the Challenger society once again to support me with the travel award. This meeting will stay with me for a long time and will prove very useful both for my work and me personally.

Group photo of those attending ProSynFest 2020
Group picture of all in-person attendees of ProSynFest 2020 in Córdoba (16-19 March 2020) in front of the Mezquita. (Photo credtis: Jonathan P. Zehr)


Awardee profile:

After successfully receiving a BSc in Biotechnology/Bioinformatics in Germany, Lukas went abroad to join the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand as part of an internship, where he got drawn to marine science, specifically marine chemistry. He then went on to do an international MSc in marine biological resources with specialisation on future ocean change under the coordination of Ghent University in Belgium. He conducted his MSc thesis at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) on Mallorca Island, Spain on marine macrophytes as carbon sinks before then starting his PhD on marine biogeochemistry in October 2019 at the University of Portsmouth, UK. His research focuses on nutrient and carbon cycling in the subtropical North Atlantic and temperate coastal settings and the role of the microbial and planktonic community in biogeochemical cycling. Further, he is looking into changing future nutrient reservoirs due to climate change and anthropogenic perturbation of dissolved and particulate nutrient and carbon pools. He plans on carrying on with his research by doing a Post-doc following his PhD.  


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