Challenges in biological cryo electron microscopy: Faraday Discussion

13 - 15 July 2022, Sheffield, United Kingdom



Join us in Sheffield in July 2022 for this addition to our Faraday Discussion series. For over 100 years and 300 meetings, Faraday Discussions have been the forefront of physical chemistry. Many of these Discussions have become landmark meetings in their field.
We invite you to join us to discuss the topic of cryo-electron microscopy and make your contribution to this cutting-edge dialogue alongside leaders in this field.
This meeting is for established scientists, post-graduate students and industrial researchers interested in this expanding field.  This meeting will bring together expertise from the UK and the international cryo-EM community to discuss the current developments and challenges in the field.  The unique format of the Faraday Discussions will allow for in-depth discussions and opportunities to establish new collaborations.
On behalf of our committee, we look forward to welcoming you to Sheffield.
Stephen Muench


The Royal Society of Chemistry is keen to encourage and enable as many people as possible to attend our events, to benefit from the networking opportunities and the chance to hear talks from leaders in the field. If you would like to discuss accessibility, or have childcare, caring responsibilities or other care needs, please contact us to discuss your requirements so that we can enable your attendance. Please refer also to our Grants for carers fund, for more information please see the ‘bursaries’ section on this page.


Faraday Discussions remain amongst the only conferences to distribute the speakers’ research papers in advance, allowing the majority of each meeting to be devoted to discussion in which all delegates can participate.  Following each meeting a written record of the discussion is published alongside the papers in the Faraday Discussions journal.

Find out more about the Faraday Discussions in this video:


Cryo-electron microscopy has undergone significant developments in microscope design, camera technology and data processing regimes, but there are significant challenges that remain and opportunities to explore, many of which must be tackled by the community as a whole rather than by individual groups.  There has been an explosion in demand for high end microscopes, with a number of new EM facilities being commissioned around the UK. This meeting will bring together expertise from both these centres and the international cryo-EM community to discuss the current developments and challenges
This Faraday Discussion will be organised into the following themes:
Sample preparation in single particle cryo-EM
Sample preparation is central to electron microscopy and is currently a significant bottleneck in many experiments. There are currently a number of limitations in our fundamental understanding of the sample preparation process, in particular the way a protein sample interacts with a grid support and how this affects the sample’s integrity.  The surface chemistry of these grids is poorly characterized. Discussion in this section will focus on dealing with the air/water interface, improving sample reproducibility and changing the chemistry of support grids to better facilitate sample preparation.
Pushing the limits in single particle cryo-EM
Despite the recent massive improvements in single particle cryo-EM, obtaining sub-2Å structural information is still a major challenge. There are a number of limitations that hinder our ability to obtain atomic resolution maps, including imaging conditions and data processing approaches. In this section, we will discuss what factors currently limit the resolution of most structures, and how we can quickly screen buffer conditions to optimise data quality, improve the signal-to-noise within data, accurately correct for factors such as magnification anisotropy and Ewald sphere curvature and improve current methodologies for identifying different conformational states. This session will also discuss the latest advances in phase plate technology and opportunities for further developments.
Tomographic analysis, CLEM
Many structural techniques can give atomic or near atomic level information, but many lack the ability to study proteins within a near native environment, for example within its cellular compartment. However, tomographic analysis provides both high resolution and the ability to work within the cell. With advances in labelling technologies and better stages it is now possible to conduct correlative electron microscopy (CLEM) analysis which can localise labelled proteins within the cell to high precision. This session will discuss the challenges facing this developing technology and how the community can address them. Key discussion points will be how we can build better sample stages, labelling technologies and tilt collection strategies, and if improved grid chemistry could help with sample preparation.
Map/model validation and dealing with the expansion of the EM community
Developments in cryo-EM are creating new opportunities within structural biology, however there are significant problems with ensuring the integrity of the field in terms of dealing with inherently low signal-to-noise images. Unfortunately, there have been recent examples in the literature of poorly refined and validated structures from cryo-EM data and with the rapid expansion of EM facilities throughout the UK and worldwide, how do we ensure that sufficient tools and training are provided to maintain high standards of model validation? In this session, we will discuss how we can ensure cryo-EM derived maps are validated, the current tools for model building and how they can be improved, and how we can provide access whilst maintaining sufficient training.
Abstract Submission

Oral Abstracts and Research Papers

Oral Abstracts and Research PapersA full research paper containing new unpublished results always accompanies oral presentations at Faraday Discussions. Submit an oral/paper abstract by 25 October 2021 if you wish to be considered for an oral presentation and associated published paper. The oral/paper abstract should outline current research in progress. Authors of the selected abstracts must then submit a full research paper with a significant amount of new, unpublished work by 21 February 2022.

The research papers are reviewed upon submission and are sent to all delegates 4 weeks before the meeting so they can be read in advance. At the meeting the presenting author is allowed five minutes to highlight the main points of their paper, and the rest of the time is for discussion. The discussion is recorded and will be published alongside the research paper in the Faraday Discussion Volume.  

Poster Abstracts 

Submit your poster abstract by 3 May 2022. Posters are displayed throughout the meeting and a poster session is held on the first evening. The Faraday Division Poster Prize will be awarded to the best poster presented by a student at the conference.

Additional Information

Authors will be notified of the outcome of the review process within about 6 weeks of the submission deadline. The abstracts should be no longer than one A4 page in portrait layout. Please ensure you provide the details of the presenting author and indicate whether you are submitting an abstract for oral or poster presentation.

OPENING SOON - Prices to be confirmed

Please read the registration information before registering.  You can register by clicking on the online registration link on this page.  Please note accommodation is not included in the registration fee.

For non-member registrants attending this event, affiliate membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry is available until the end of 2023, the affiliate membership application will be processed and commence once the registrant has attended the event.

Registration includes:
  •  Attendance at the sessions
  • Refreshments throughout the meeting
  • Lunch on all 3 days
  • Attendance at the poster drinks reception on Wednesday 13 July
  • Attendance at the conference dinner on Thursday 14 July
  • A copy of the discussion pre-prints
  • A copy of the final theme issue of Faraday Discussion Volume containing papers presented at the Discussion (issued approximately 6 months after the meeting)**
Registration fees are as follows (subject to VAT at the prevailing rate):
Early Bird
(23 May 2022)
Standard Registration
(13 June 2022)
Student members*
Student non-members
Guest Fee***

* If you are a Royal Society of Chemistry member and wish to register for this meeting, please select the member option on the online registration page. You will need to enter your membership number.

 **Excluding students, who can order the volume at a reduced price at the conference. 

*** This includes all lunches, refreshments and the conference dinner but does not include attendance at any scientific sessions.‚Äč

Student Delegates

In order to encourage undergraduate or postgraduate students to attend the Discussion, a reduced conference fee (to include a set of pre-prints but not the final Discussion Volume) is available. This fee applies to those undertaking a full time course for a recognised degree or a diploma at a university or equivalent institution.

A copy of the publication may be purchased at less than half price, only for orders placed at the meeting where an application form will be made available. 

Conference Dinner

The conference dinner on Thursday 14 July is included in the registration fee. 

Terms and Conditions for Events run by the Royal Society of Chemistry


In light of COVID-19, we are not currently accepting applications to our Travel Grant for PhD Students and Early Career Scientists. We will update our Travel Grants website with more information as it becomes available.

Travel Grants for PhD Students and Early Career Scientists

We have two types of grants available to attend this meeting:
  • A limited number of non-competitive travel grants of up to £200 are available for PhD students and early career scientists. These are assigned on a first come, first served basis.  Applicants must be Royal Society of Chemistry members of any level at the time of making their application.
  • Competitive grants of up to £800 are available to assist with international travel expenses for PhD students, postdocs within 10 years of completing their PhD and early career scientists (including technicians and industrialists) within 10 years of leaving full time education. In addition, applicants must be Royal Society of Chemistry members of any level at the time of making their application.
To take advantage of these grants and many other benefits, become a member. Follow the link on the right hand side to find out more and join today!

Grants for Carers

Grants for carers have been introduced following the Royal Society of Chemistry Breaking the barriers report where 78% of chemists working in UK academia felt that managing parenting and/or caring responsibilities has an impact on women’s retention and progression. This fund is not limited to women scientists and welcomes applications from anyone with caring responsibilities.

These grants have been supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemists’ Community Fund.

You can apply for up to a maximum of £1000/year to assist with additional financial costs that you incur for care usually provided by you whilst you attend a chemistry related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event.
Caring responsibilities are wide and varied, and so each application will be individually assessed, examples of applications that we will consider include:
  • paying for extra home help or nursing care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • additional medical/respite care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • travel expenses for a relative to travel with you to care for dependents whilst you attend a meeting or event
  • paying for extended hours with a care worker/childminder/play scheme to cover time when you will arrive home later than normal.
You are eligible to apply if:
  • you are a chemist
  • you will incur additional caring expenses whilst attending a chemistry-related meeting, conference, event or workshop or a professional development event
  • you will use these funds to cover the cost of care that you usually provide
  • you are based in the UK or Ireland or if not, you will normally have held three years RSC membership (past or current).
Sponsorship & supporting organisations
A selection of sponsorship opportunities is available for companies who would like to promote their activities at the 2021 Faraday Discussion series

There are opportunities available to become the Faraday Discussion series sponsor,  Research & Development partner or Poster prize series sponsor as well as some individual meeting options. A sponsorship menu document will be available to download from this page with more details and prices.

Please note that exhibition spaces are limited, spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

If you would like more information about sponsoring the 2021 Faraday Discussion series, please contact the Commercial Sales Department at the Royal Society of Chemistry on
The University of Sheffield

The Edge, The University of Sheffield, The University of Sheffield, Endcliffe Village, 34 Endcliffe Crescent, Sheffield, S10 3ED, United Kingdom

Please note that accommodation is not included in the registration fee and a link will be provided in order to book accommodation directly with the University of Sheffield.

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