The Microscience Microscopy Congress 2015, 29 June - 2 July 2015, Manchester Central, UK
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The Learning Zone

The Learning Zone is a free feature of the Exhibition and is open to all visitors and conference delegates.  It is a place where you can speak to experts, learn something new, ask questions, and develop your knowledge.  Do bring your samples and ask for advice.  There are different zones covering seven different specialist areas - SEM, TEM, Light Microscopy, Digital Microscopy, Confocal Microscopy, Specimen Preparation and Scanning Probe Microscopy.

The Learning Zone has its own seminar programme made up of 30 minute talks giving introductions to a variety of microscopy topics and techniques, running daily from 10.00 until 15.45. View the up to date Seminar Programme

The Learning Zone is a unique feature to the MICROSCIENCE series of the Royal Microscopical Society, it has been a major part of our flagship events since 2002, starting out as a specialist learning area for light microscopy.  We're building on the success of previous years to expand to multiple areas of microscopy and provide this tremendous free opportunity for both exhibition visitors and conference delegates.

The Learning Zone – The opportunity to 'Ask the Experts'

Find out more about each area of the Learning Zone and what will be on offer at mmc2015:

Scanning Electron Microscopy

The Learning Zone will have some SEM advanced tuition modules available (with experts on hand) and short talks on achieving the most from your SEM by focusing on optimising instrument performance (guns, columns, detectors etc), choosing the right approach for differing sample applications and looking at new approaches such as 3D SEM, FIB etc. A number of exhibitors will have SEMs on their stands, so please make sure you visit these stands while you are at mmc2015. 
Are you experiencing difficulties in obtaining good SEM images of your samples? Do you wish to find out whether SEM is the appropriate technique to apply to your specimens? Or do you wish to know more about the potential of the SEM?

Come along, not only to listen, but also to ask questions and make good use of the opportunity to discuss your requirements with experienced microscopists.

Transmission Electron Microscopy

Transmission Electron Microscopy will again be part of The Learning Zone, with a short talk given on Tuesday and on Thursday.  The talk is aimed at both new users of a TEM and those who want to understand what their TEM colleagues get up to.  As such it will cover the basics of imaging and analysis, as well as some of the new developments including aberration correction.   There will be an opportunity to ask the lecturer questions straight after the talk, or afterwards in the Learning Zone seating area where topics can be explored in greater depth.  

Light Microscopy

The light microscope is one of the most important and widely-used scientific instruments, yet many users would benefit from some assistance in understanding how it operates and how it might be used to best advantage.

The Learning Zone will offer help on transmitted- and reflected-light microscopy, from basic principles to specialised techniques. Bring your questions to us, no matter how simple or complex; we will do our best to help.

Each day there will be two illustrated talks, aimed at helping microscopists understand how their microscopes work, and how they should best be used.

The Learning Zone will have a range of Light Microscopes from basic to advanced. These will be provided by exhibiting companies and we are grateful for their generous loan of equipment. A full list of makes and models will be available nearer the event.

Digital Microscopy and Image Processing (ImageJ)

The use of digital cameras have opened up modern computing power to microscopy. In the Digital Microscopy zone, we will guide you through on what sort of developments in camera technology have become available, tallking through advantages, disadvantages and applications of each technology. Important points will be how camera resolution relates to microscope resolution, camera sensitivity versus noise, imaging speed, among others.

With a number of workstations available, you will also have an opportunity to explore various methods of digital image processing and analysis on your own computer or on a workstation. For this we will use ImageJ/Fiji, which is freely available online and widely used by the scientific community for image processing and analysis. Do bring your own laptop if you would like to.  We will cover basic topics like, data types, data handling, segmentation, automatic measurements, filtering and others. We will also cover more specific topics like deconvolution, image tiling of large areas, extended depth of field, topography (surface roughness) and co-localisation.

Confocal Microscopy

Confocal microscopy is an optical sectioning technique which enables us to look non-invasively into cells and tissues and build up a three-dimensional image of these. The technique is widely-used in universities, research institutions, hospitals and industry.

There are two main designs of confocal microscope; the point-scanning confocal and the multiple-beam (spinning disc) confocal. The point-scanner can precisely optically section a sample, whilst the spinning disc system is good for rapidly capturing images of moving samples. We will have an example of a spinning disc confocal microscope available. You will have an opportunity to explore and understand the advantages of each and how they work.

Areas covered include: image acquisition, single image collection, Z-stack formation, 3-D and 4-D reconstruction.

Specimen Preparation

Specimen preparation is particularly important when samples are to be examined or analysed using either light or electron microscopes.  Poorly prepared samples used in any form of microscopy will result in the generation of artefacts.  Making minor modifications to the way in which samples are prepared, examining the range of compounds used in preparation and ensuring the maintenance of preparation equipment will all assist in improvements of sample quality.

Ideally, perfectly prepared immunofluorescence experiments should have a high signal to noise ratio and include a range of control samples.  These parameters are often dictated by the quality of antibody, but experiments at the Learning Zone may be able to offer hints and tips to improve sample preparation.  Considerations in preparation such as the choice of fixative and quality of antibody are important.

At mmc2015 expert microscopists from different backgrounds will be available to answer your questions about the pitfalls and procedures of specimen preparation used in geo-materials and biological applications.

Scanning Probe Microscopy

Scanning probe microscopy is an invaluable tool for the analysis of nanomaterials, surfaces and nanoscale processes. The Learning Zone will offer the opportunity to find out more about the principles of operation of SPM, and about application of SPM, through a combination of short talks and freely available expert advice. This will cover for example the basics of how an SPM works, the application of atomic force microscopy in life sciences, sample preparation, and the fundamentals of the tip-sample interactions. The talks will be appropriate for SPM novices as well as those wishing to develop their expertise. There will be a number of microscopy manufacturers exhibiting SPMs on their stands who will be happy to give practical demonstrations, so why not bring a sample. For a more complete grounding in SPM you may want to register for the pre-congress workshop ‘Practical Tips for AFM’. But there will also be (friendly!) experts available during the week in the Learning Zone so if you have questions about experiments you have tried, experiments you want to try, or just want to know more about what SPM could do then come along and ask.


Running alongside the Learning Zone will be the RMS Zone. This area offers a more relaxed spot to find out about the Royal Microscopical Society, with information on membership, future events and training courses as well as a chance to meet a number of our Council, committee and staff members. You can also find out more about the Society's Outreach projects such as its recognised qualification, the RMS Diploma as well as the RMS Microscope Activity Kits - the successful scheme of free microscopes and activities sent out to UK Primary Schools each term.

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