Minutes from ISPB AGM 2018

Minutes of the International Society for Plasmid Biology (ISPB) General Meeting, Seattle, WA, USA.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 2.40pm


Officers presiding:

President Fernando de la Cruz

Secretary Eva Top

Treasurer Christopher M. Thomas


  1. Welcome

The ISPB President Fernando de la Cruz opened the meeting and welcomed the participants.

  1. Attendance

The Conference was attended by 145 delegates, the majority of whom were present for the ISPB General Meeting.

  1. Adoption of the agenda and identification of any other business (AOB)

The agenda was approved. This agenda had been sent to all delegates by email before the conference. At least one AOB was brought up: announcing the special issue of Plasmid (see 10 below).

  1. Approval of the minutes from the previous General Meeting, Cambridge, UK,


The minutes were approved. They had been sent to all delegates by email before the conference.

  1. Matters arising from the previous minutes

The president asked if people wanted to bring up anything after reading the previous minutes, but no comments or questions were raised.

  1. Approval of Constitution (to check that everyone is still happy with it).

The constitution was attached to the agenda that had been sent out before the conference. The president asked if there were any concerns about the constitution. There were none.

  1. Nominations for President, Secretary and Treasurer followed by election

Nominations were as follows: for President: Barbara Funnell; Secretary: Eva Top, and Treasurer: Christopher M. Thomas.  All were approved unanimously.  [Note that all three left the room to allow discussion and voting in their absence].

  1. Financial Report:

The financial report was attached to the Agenda as an Appendix, and is attached again here as Appendix I. The current balance is £34,366.51, thanks to the previous two meetings, which each brought considerable amounts of funds back to the society.

Chris Thomas explained that we should put this resource back into promoting the science of plasmid biology. First, he pointed out that there are a few reasons why we need to keep a healthy buffer:

  1. One requirement we have to keep in mind is deposits for organizing future conferences. This year none was required because the University of Washington didn’t request any deposit, but for previous conferences deposits were needed.
  2. A buffer for future meetings. It is not easy to estimate and then reach the break-even point for number of conference participants. This year we had counted on 150 delegates and ended up with 145; thanks to sponsoring we will be able to return funds to the Society. This may not always work at as well.
  3. The Plasmid Biology prize will be financed out of the Society funds from now on, as the Brian Wilkins fund has been completely used up (and in fact the 2016 Brian Wilkins Prize had to be partly funded by the surplus from the meeting).


  1. Discussion about ideas for use of the ISPB resources?

After Chris’s three points listed above, the floor was open for other suggestions on how to use ISPB resources. There was a good level of participation in the discussion including contributions from Julian Rood, Anne Summers, Daniella Barilla, Alvaro San Milan, Beth Traxler, Chris D Thomas and others.

  1. First the group was asked whether we should commit to other awards for poster and oral presentations, or travel grants? There was general agreement on all of these as worthwhile but little discussion about the details.
  2. The key additional suggestion from the floor was that investing some funds into a professional website with support, and advertisement of the next conference would be very worthwhile. Linked to this it was also suggested that having an additional ‘communication/PR’ person who would take care of the website and social media accounts, would be worthwhile.  It was suggested by several that Twitter was much better than Facebook and that it could be used to post links to interesting plasmid biology work as well as promoting the next meeting.  It could also strengthen the link with the journal Plasmid.
  3. It was also suggested that a Glossy flyer or poster for the next conference, both printed and electronic, would be a good way of raising the profile of the Society.
  4. This prompted some discussion about the purpose of the advertising – was it to grow the conference or to make it easier to fill the places. It was agreed that a size of between 140 and 200 participants was ideal because it allowed good networking interactions between participants.  Therefore, better advertising should be more about raising profile and encouraging participation from a wider range of groups.
  5. People reiterated the suggestion to invest some of the funds in profession support for the website so that Chris M. Thomas doesn’t need to do this.

The new President, Treasurer, and Secretary along with the organiser(s) of Plasmid Biology 2020 will follow up on these suggestions and take some action in the coming months.

  1. Other Business: Journal Plasmid – update by Editor-in-Chief Julian Rood.

Julian Rood emphasized that Plasmid is the society’s journal, thus it is our journal. Therefore, it needs our support through submitting papers and reviews of high quality. He was happy to announce that its impact factor is above 2 this year and the intention should be to keep it that way and continue the upward trend. There will be a special issue again as a result of this conference. However, the topics of submitted manuscript do not need to be the same as what delegates presented at the meeting. Expressions of interest are due by October 15, and papers are expected by December 15. Special Editors will be Julian Rood, Eva Top, and Beth Traxler.



  1. Venue and organizers of future meetings

–     The next meeting will be held in Toulouse, France, 5-11 2020It will be organised by Jean-Yves Bouet and colleagues.

  • 2022 meeting: Suggestions were Toronto, Japan, somewhere at the East Coast of the US (Atlanta, although probably too hot?).



Fernando de la Cruz closed the meeting at 3:30 pm.