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Theo Murphy meeting organised by Dr Richard Bowman, Dr Caroline Müllenbroich, Dr Benedict Diederich, Dr Julieta Arancio, Dr Sanli Faez and Professor Gail McConnell. The organisers would like to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Kirti Prakash, who has since stepped down from the organising committee, for helping to set up this meeting.

Reproducible experiments in microscopy require well-understood instruments that can be replicated independently. Open Source Hardware, the practice of sharing complete designs under an open license can make instrument development more reproducible, more accessible, and reduce duplicated effort. This meeting will bring together researchers, manufacturers, and others involved in open microscopy to discuss recent developments, best practice, and goals for the future.

The schedule of talks and speaker biographies will be available soon. Meeting papers will be published in a future issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

Poster/demonstration session

  • There will be a poster session on Monday 22 May 2023. If you would like to apply to present a poster please submit your proposed title, abstract (not more than 200 words and in third person), author list, name of the proposed presenter and institution to the Scientific Programmes team no later than Monday 17 April 2023.
  • If you would like to bring a hardware demonstration, please mention if it would require power and/or table space.
  • The organisers may invite a small number of attendees who submit abstracts to join panel discussions, on the basis of those abstracts.
  • Please include the text 'Poster abstract submission - Open, reproducible hardware for microscopy' in the email subject line. Please note that places are limited, and posters are selected at the scientific organisers' discretion.

Attending this event

This event is intended for researchers in relevant fields.

  • Free to attend
  • Advance registration essential (please request an invitation)
  • This is an in-person meeting.

Enquiries: contact the Scientific Programmes team

Image credit: Joseph Knapper, University of Bath (A fluorescent micrograph of some plant cells)






Session 1: Open hardware reaches further


Sharing hardware openly both enables more people and labs to access it, but through encouraging replication it makes science more reproducible. In this session, we will hear from speakers who work with or develop open projects, that have achieved a much wider reach because of that openness. The discussion will touch on the benefits of openness applied to experimental hardware, particularly as applied to reducing the inequalities entrenched in modern scientific practice. We will discuss issues around how to make projects open, barriers we often face to doing so, and tools that can help.

Welcome by the lead organiser
Panel 1


Panel discussion – Q&A
Introduction to the unconference format
Unconference session 1 following on from the panel discussion
Plenary feedback and discussion


Session 2: Faster, more reproducible instrument development


Many cutting-edge techniques are now being shared under open licenses. This enables us to build on each other's work without the need for licensing deals, which is good for reproducibility and also for the pace of innovation. This session will let us hear from speakers developing novel technologies and sharing them openly.

Panel 2


Professor Paul French - openScopes: an open, modular platform for microscopy and high content analysis

Professor French and his collaborators are developing open multidimensional fluorescence imaging instrumentation, including high content analysis (HCA), super-resolved microscopy, quantitative phase imaging and optical projection tomography. For fluorescence microscopy, they are developing a modular open-source microscopy platform based on openFrame, a low-cost, modular, microscope stand that can be used for low-cost and sustainable instruments in lower resource settings or for rapidly prototyping of advanced microscopy concepts. For open HCA and slide scanning, the scientists have developed novel optical autofocus modules including a long-range (~200 micron) implementation utilising machine learning. This can be combined with easySTORM for cost-effective single molecule localisation microscopy (SMLM) including automated multiwell plate SMLM for super-resolved HCA. They have also developed a polarization differential phase contrast microscopy (pDPC) module providing single-shot quantitative phase imaging that we are applying to label-free single cell segmentation and tracking for long time-base assays.


Dr Johannes Hohlbein - Open microscopy in the life sciences: sharing is caring 

Together with other colleagues enthusiastic about open science, Dr Hohlbein recently published a comment on the past, presence and future potential of open microscopy. Here, the author will iterate on some of the key points with a focus on single-molecule localisation microscopy (SMLM). SMLM allows monitoring molecular interactions in live cells and other complex samples. A few years ago, the scientists developed the miCube microscopy framework to increase the general accessibility and affordability of SMLM. They were intrigued to see how quickly other groups came up with new ideas and improvements in addition to our own developments including new algorithms for fast data analysis, addition of adaptive optics for localising proteins in turbid media and a scheme for spectrally resolved SMLM. These few examples demonstrate the huge potential of open microscopy in enabling interdisciplinary science and lowering the threshold for researchers to find the best solutions for their scientific imaging challenges.


Panel discussion - Q&A
Unconference session 2
Plenary feedback and discussion
Poster/tabletop presentations


Session 3: Interoperability and reproducibility for experiments


Any design can be shared, but when interoperability, openness, and reproducibility are included in a design from the start, it often has great results. We will have a discussion led by panellists who are experienced in working openly, and in designing interfaces between different systems. The utopia of a lab where different experiments can be designed and implemented by connecting standard components in a seamless and rapid way is still some way off, but we will discuss how we can achieve this using open tools.

Panel 3
Panel Discussion
Unconference session 3
Unconference recap


Session 4: Making open, reproducible hardware a reality


Open hardware is already possible in microscopy, and is increasingly being seen as good practice. If we're to make open hardware more widespread, we need to understand how to recognise this practice in ways that are picked up by academic metrics, and how to produce instruments commercially without exclusive licenses. Our panellists represent a variety of different stakeholders from the scientific ecosystem, including suppliers, funders, publishers, and a legal expert. The discussion will start focused on questions around how we can help open hardware become more widely practised, including how it's published, purchased, and funded.

Panel 4
Panel Discussion
Unconference 4
Plenary discussion
Plenary wrap-up