What are the Silica Sessions?

Andy Warhol, world famous American visual artist, is supposed to have said “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Here’s the chance! The Silica Sessions aim to be an open discussion series to debate important topics related to diatoms. Anyone with a topic to share should get in touch with David Williams, to be put onto the list. You can also add your ideas through this link: https://forms.office.com/e/r9aDXPg0uu

Every three months a topic is raised and shared about the community in this Zoom session:

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 674 8665 5151
Passcode: 637865


Next Silica Sessions

The next Silica Session is on the future of conferences. How to keep down the carbon footprint and be able to network meaningfully? Participation and ideas are highly encouraged!

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 674 8665 5151
Passcode: 637865

Videos from the last meeting


Description: Conference travel came to a halt in 2020, forced by the pandemic. That “push” of the pandemic caused people to realize the dirty little secret of conferences; air travel is an environmental disaster. The carbon footprint of holding a traditional conference is over 95% that of an online conference. Furthermore, many people do not want (or are not able) to afford the financial cost of traveling, the personal cost of time away from family, or have the luxury of good health to travel. Yet, virtual conferences come up short in providing natural, human connections. We will consider the pros and cons of different conference formats. What are your feelings on conferences of the future? Have you ever built a successful relationship online? Is there any way that virtual conferences can be improved? Are there activities that might make virtual conferences superior as professional experiences?

Proposed session format: 10 minute presentation of the topic, 10 minute breakout session with people divided into small groups (4-5 people) for discussion, then everyone return to the main session, with one person from each small group summarizing the topics of each group.


The next Silica Sessions are planned for December 6th, 15-16 Central European Time. Subject The poverty of molecular monophyly: Campylodiscus as an example. David Williams will start the discussion. Join us!

Systematics, taxonomy, phylogenetics all refer to the same thing: how do we classify organisms? It is generally agreed that monophyletic groups are those we are seeking, those are the groups we will name. Molecular data have overwhelmingly become the data of choice in diatom systematics as it has elsewhere. And yet … some groups so recognised (named) lack support from actual data, from real characters. So: we have taxon names for entities that have no characters.


David Williams presents: The poverty of molecular monophyly: Campylodiscus as an example

The first Silica Session

On September 27th at 14h UK Time we had the first Silica Session. We acknowledge technical problems, as the link shared through the membership mailing list was not correct. However, 75 diatomists from around the world met up to discuss David Williams’ topic: Why IMRaD (Introduction-Materials and Methods- Results and Discussion) is an unsuitable format for taxonomic publications. The discussion was lively, although for the next time we attempt to make it more accessible for Early Career Researchers.

David Williams presents: How the current publication format (IMRaD- Introduction/methods/Results and Discussion) is no longer useable for taxonomic papers