5th December 2016 – Ashley Otter, Royal Veterinary College, University of London

ashley-otterHi everyone! I’m Ash and I’m a 2nd year PhD student based at the Centre for Emerging, Endemic and Exotic Diseases (CEEED) at Royal Veterinary College (RVC), part of the University of London. At the moment, I’m currently trying to get as much data for my PhD that is based on studying transcriptional regulators in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the biggest killer worldwide by infectious disease.

You could say I started my career in microbiology when I was studying my A-levels (just before university), where I had two amazing biology teachers that inspired me to go on to pursue microbiology at a university. I eventually decided to start a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology at Cardiff University School of Biosciences in 2011. Here, I was lucky enough to undertake a professional training year (PTY) as part of my degree, where I could take a year out of my undergraduate studies to experience a research laboratory.

I secured a place in the laboratory of Prof. Les Baillie, researching anthrax specific bacteriophages (more of which I will talk about if people are interested!). This year of working in a research lab and gaining lots of experience made me want to continue a career in microbiology research.

After finishing my PTY, I then went back and finished my undergraduate degree and graduated in July 2015. During my final year of study/university, I applied for a PhD project with research focused on transcriptional regulators in the Mycobacterium genus, a highly diverse group of bacteria including the pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the major cause of the human disease: Tuberculosis), Mycobacterium bovis (predominant causative bacterium of Tuberculosis in cattle) and Mycobacterium leprae (the cause of leprosy).

More specifically, my work is focussed around the elusive TetR family of transcriptional regulators (TFTRs). In M. tuberculosis and M. bovis, TFTRs are a group of regulators previously identified as being involved in regulating various genes involved in things such as antibiotic resistance, cholesterol metabolism and branched chain amino acid metabolism. My work consists of some bioinformatics and then applying this bioinformatic knowledge to a range of molecular biology tools to determine the functions of these TFTRs and what genes they are involved in regulating.

I look forward to hearing from everyone and hope to answer some questions!

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29th of August 2016 – Muhammad Adnan Ashraf, University of Agriculture Faisalabad

[Admin] The contributor’s week was truncated due to content which was deemed to be problematic. It was agreed that it was in the best interests of all parties that he not continue.
Adnan A MalikGreetings readers!  I have been interacting biologists/ scientists at @biotweeps for quite a period. I found the forum very interesting and teased amusingly Dr. Anthony to not including someone from Asia particularly from Pakistan as curator at @biotweeps. To my surprise, he welcomed me instantly from the core of heart. Any biology reader has something worth sharing, feel free to schedule your week.
I am PhD candidate with Microbiology major at Institute of Microbiology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan. I have done with six semesters and hope to complete doctorate in a year or so. Although subjects in my studies were not narrowed down to any sub-discipline, I chose working on modification of bacterial amylase enzyme to improve industry oriented characteristics in it. To a bit detail, I am working on engineering amylase to make it thermostable via site-directed mutagenesis. Nowadays I am PhD scholar and Research Fellow at the same institute.
I have a diverse areas of interest based on different kinda majors and projects I have been through. Apart from the interest in enzyme engineering, I am basically a veterinary graduate having Vet Medical Council license. I have enjoyed a lot managing and treating farm animals and pets. In my masters, I worked on USDA funded project based on biocontrol of Aedes mosquito species. Being engaged to veterinary science and microbiology, I am interested in One Health and zoonosis as well. As Teaching Assistant, I have taught many courses at graduate as well as undergraduate level. In my leisure, rather when I am not ‘sciencing’, I am equally interested in cricket, bodyweight training, exercise physiology, movies and documentaries.
In my week as curator at @biotweeps, I ll be tweeting on veterinary science, microbiology, one health, biological control and enzyme engineering interspersed with exercise physiology. I ll briefly share routine life of graduate student and researcher at my institute to @biotweeps. Feel free to interact me at @adnan_a_malik.

22nd of August 2016 – Megan Larsen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Megan LarsenMegan recently finished her PhD with Jay T. Lennon at Indiana University where she specialized in microbial ecology and evolution. Her dissertation focused on how cyanobacteria-phage interactions within microbial communities evolve in response to nutrient limiting conditions. She’s now returned to her home state of Nebraska (USA) and is applying her technical expertise in microbial ecology and informatics to studying cyanobacterial blooms at the University of Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory.

Megan is an advocate for undergraduate STEM education and community outreach. While at Indiana University, she was greatly involved with engaging underrepresented students in the Women In STIM (Science, Technology, Informatics, and Mathematics) Living Learning Center and designed seminar courses for undergraduate professional development.

When she’s not sciencing, Megan is likely out and about on her bicycle roaming the old railroads turned trails in Lincoln or hiking with her dogs, Nala (lab retriever) and Sarah (St. Bernard).

This week on biotweeps, she’ll be focusing on skills she’s picked up during graduate school, new analytical chemistry skills she’s learning at the Water Sciences Laboratory, discussion about harmful algal blooms in the news, informatics, and work-life balance.

 You can follow Megan after Biotweeps on twitter (@meganllarsen) or on her website (http://meganllarsen.wordpress.com).

February 9th, 2015 – Eleanor Senior, University of Birmingham

Eleanor SeniorI am currently a 3rd year Biological Sciences MSCi studying at the University of Birmingham, but i’m still a Lancashire lass at heart. My interests involve both microbiology and botany, particularly in the area of Plant Pathology. I’m writing my dissertation on how microbes can affect and regulate normal plant development and I’m striving to make people see that plants are not a dull as everyone thinks, a particular problem in schools where you just learn about photosynthesis for 7 years straight. I the future I hope to study for my PhD in either plant biology or microbiology (if they can put up with me for 4 years that is!)

I am currently interested in how our knowledge of plants and microbes can be applied to wide reaching fields of science, from agriculture to pharmaceuticals. This seems to be of particular importance now there are issues arising in food security due to the exponentially growing human population.

I also have a keen interest in sport and nutrition, as a keen runner and gym bunny i am fascinated with the biomechanical processes by which we are able to move and also the biochemical processes that allow us to function.

I love Science Communication and am now a STEM ambassador for Birmingham and Solihull. I’ve already had the fortune to work at the British Science festival and soon I’ll be at the Big Bang Fair, spreading my interests with a wider audience.

November 3rd 2014 – Naomi Osborne, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Naomi Osborne 1I’m a microbiology-enthusiast and Senior Development Scientist working for Thermo Fisher Scientific in Basingstoke, UK. Since graduating from the University of Leicester in 2009, I interned at Thermo Fisher Scientific as part of a Government-funded project, aimed at improving undergraduate courses to make students better-equipped for entering industry. My first couple of years at the company involved investigating novel antimicrobial compounds which could be used to isolate bacteria. Now, I develop novel culture media for the food-testing and clinical market, which is used to detect pathogenic organisms, including “superbugs”. When I’m not researching, carrying out or writing up experiments, I’m also involved in creating content for the company’s social media pages and blog.
I’m a keen STEM ambassador and in my spare time enjoy blogging all things microbiology and taking part in science-outreach events. I’m also on the committee of the Thames Valley Branch of the British Science Association, where I organise Cafe Scientifique events in Reading each month.
I also have a love for cats, Percy Pigs, and shoes.