‘Ask the Experts’ at The Learning Zone

A major part of our flagship event since 2002, The Learning Zone is a tremendous free feature which is open to all visitors and conference delegates.

The Learning Zone has its own seminar theatre hosting a daily programme of introductory talks. The programmes are available to view.

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. 

Light Microscopy

The light microscope is one of the most important and widely-used scientific instruments, and an in-depth understanding of its operation is essential to ensure you are using it to its best advantage.

The Learning Zone will offer help and advice 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. This zone will feature a range of light microscopes from basic to advanced.

Each day there will be an illustrated talk in the Learning Zone seminar theatre, aimed at helping you understand how your microscopes works, and how they should best set up and used.

The factors determining the resolution of a microscope are expressed in Ernst Abbe’s famous equation published in 1873  

d = λ / 2 n sin α

To demonstrate this, Abbe devised a series of simple experiments, which still provide an important teaching tool to demonstrate the influence of objective aperture and wavelength on the microscope image, and how dark field and phase contrast images are formed.

Peter Evennett will demonstrate these on the Learning Zone, using a specially adapted microscope; come along for a demonstration!

Scanning Electron Microscopy

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 just want to know more about the potential of the SEM? Come along to the Learning Zone.

We 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 in the exhibition.

Transmission Electron Microscopy 

Transmission Electron Microscopy will again be part of the Learning Zone, with a short talk given on Tuesday morning. 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.

Digital Imaging Microscopy

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

With a number of workstations available, you will also have an opportunity to explore various methods of digital image processing and analysis. For this we will use ImageJ/ Fiji, which is freely available online and widely used by the scientific community for image processing and analysis. 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. The seminar theatre will host two informal, introductory talks on Confocal Microscopy (see the seminar program for times). By visiting the Confocal Zone, we can help you to explore and understand the advantages of each of these instruments and provide guidance on how they work.  We will be on hand to answer any questions you may have, for example on; image acquisition, single image collection, Z-stack formation, 3D and 4D reconstruction.

Etch a Cell 

The research group works at the Francis Crick Institute in London, where they use a range of cutting-edge Electron Microscopes to take images of molecules, cells and tissues. We collaborate with many scientific researchers to image a huge variety of biological samples to help understand cancer, infectious diseases (including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria), the immune system, the brain and nervous system, diabetes and more. We collect images of these samples using our electron microscopes, some of which are automated. This means we can produce a vast amount of image data; one cell alone may produce up to several terabytes worth of data! Visit the Learning Zone to see some of the equipment in use.

Digital Classroom

A new addition to this year's Learning Zone will be an example of digital microscopy in a classroom environment. Aimed at all pupils from 7 upwards this classroom shows how effective having all microscopes in the classroom connected to a teacher's console where they can easily see how each person is using their microscope and what they are seeing. If you teach any subject in the classroom that uses a microscope, please take a look at what is happening in a school near you.

The RMS would like to thank the following companies for the contribution of their equipment to the Learning Zone: CoolLED, University of Oxford - Department of Earth Sciences, The Francis Crick Institute, Leica Microsystems, Nikon, Photometrics and ZEISS.

RMS Zone

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 and 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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