I’m currently a research assistant with the group which means I do a lot of the laboratory work involved in our investigations as DNA detectives. I spend most my time working in our labs growing bacteria before busting them open and extracting their DNA for study using DNA sequencing. In October, I will be starting a PhD looking into antibiotic resistance in wastewater and seeing how resistance spreads between humans and animals.
What investigations are you involved in?
My most recent project was studying how the bacteria that live in hospital sinks might develop antibiotic resistance, spread to patients and cause disease. I went around hospital wards with a mobile laboratory and used a syringe to suck up the gunk that lives in the pipes (pretty gross) and then used the gunk to grow bacteria in special plates of agar jelly. By studying their DNA, we found a proper superbug in one sink which was highly resistant to antibiotics so were able to warn the ward and prevent its spread. We are also looking at how this sink gunk might provide a great place for bacteria to share antibiotic resistance and how we could stop this.
How did you get here?
So I chose to do Biology at the University of Reading because I enjoyed the subject the most out of my A-levels and didn’t really know what I wanted to do otherwise (it’s a big decision to make at 17!). The first year gave a great broad overview from bees to bacteria (heh) and I found myself fascinated with the latter so switched degree to Microbiology. I really loved learning about the crazy complicated ways these tiny tiny bugs had evolved to survive and was always and still am amazed. I decided to specialise into this area by doing a Molecular Microbiology Masters of Research at the University of Bath. Doing extended research projects as part of the MRes definitely inspired me to pursue a career in academia after I found the dynamic process of research really enjoyable. It was also really exciting to work on the superbug MRSA which highlighted the importance of research into antibiotic resistance leading me to join MMM.