24th September 2018 – Aileen Baird, University of Birmingham, Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (funded by NERC through DREAM CDT)

Aileen BairdHi Biotweeps! I’m Aileen, and I’m just entering the 2nd year of my PhD at the University of Birmingham funded under the NERC DREAM CDT. Prior to my PhD, I studied for an MSci in Human Biology, also at the University of Birmingham. During my degree, I realised that microbiology was my real passion, and actually, I was more interested in environmental microbes than microbes in humans! My interest is primarily in fungi: notoriously under-loved and under-studied. So prepare yourselves for a week of me waxing lyrical about the wonderful world of fungi…

My research is on temperate forest fungi and how these fungi are affected by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the air. Due to climate change, we can expect that carbon dioxide concentrations in the air will continue to rise for a number of years, and it is really important to understand how forests will response to this changing planet.

I work at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) Free Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) experiment. At our Mill Haft site in Staffordshire we have a unique set up, with 30m high towers forming rings around areas of the forest. These towers spray out extra carbon dioxide into areas of the forest, mimicking what carbon dioxide concentrations we will have in the air in about 2070.

This is an amazing experiment which offers a large number of researchers (including me!) an incredible resource to study how forest ecosystems are affected by climate change. Fungi are really important in forest ecosystems in particular, playing roles in: decomposition, as pathogens (diseases) on plants and in humans, and even on plant roots delivering extra nutrients to plants. Fungi can have a significant impact on the forest ecosystem, so in order to understand how the forest as a whole responds to carbon dioxide, we need to understand how the fungi respond.

Outside of my mushroom-bothering day job, I love to cycle and explore the wonderful countryside we have in the West Midlands! I also work part-time for the Brilliant Club, an organisation which places doctoral researchers and post-docs in schools to deliver university-style tutorials to students from ages 8-18. The aim is to not give the students an experience of studying in university style, on a subject outside of the curriculum- with the end goal of increasing entry of students from under-represented backgrounds into top universities.

I look forward to chatting to you on Twitter this week!

Aileen

Twitter: @alienbaird

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17th September 2018 – Ed Emmott, Northeastern University

Ed EmmottI’m Ed Emmott (twitter: @edemmott, web: edemmott.co.uk), a postdoc at Northeastern University in Boston MA. I moved to the US just under a year ago after a previous postdoc in the UK at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. My background is in studying viruses, how your body defends against them, and in particular how this changes the proteins your cells make in response to infection.

I’ve mostly worked on animal viruses. In some cases these are important in themselves, for example the economic impact of chicken viruses on the poultry industry. The virus I worked on during my PhD – Avian coronavirus, also known as infectious bronchitis virus is an example of this. In other cases, when there isn’t a good way to grow a human virus, a similar animal virus can be the best way we have to study this. In my last postdoc I worked on mouse norovirus which is not a major problem for any mice which get infected, but is similar to human norovirus which causes winter vomiting disease. Norovirus is best known for outbreaks on cruise ships and sporting events.

I’m also interested in how cells make proteins and how cells respond to infection. I’m working on this in my current postdoc, where I am studying how ribosomes are altered as part of the immune response. I do lots of the above with a method called mass spectrometry, which allows me to study thousands of proteins at once. You’ll be hearing a little bit on all this and on some of the places I’ve worked during my week!

Aside from the research, I’m a strong supporter of preprints, and reproducibility in science and try to contribute to these as an ASAPbio and eLife Ambassador. Away from the science I enjoy cooking, music, good restaurants, IPA, and am fueled by ~5 coffees/day.

21-22 June 2018 – The second Biotweeps Twitter Conference, #BTCon18

Biotweeps_Logo_cropThe first Biotweeps Twitter Conference, #BTCon17, brought together 60 presenters from 12 countries, from across the biological sciences. The conference was extremely successful, engaging 1,200 people and with an estimated global audience of 22 million people (see our Nature Communications article, here).

The conference returns this year as BTCon18, split over two days between the 21-22 of June, 2018. It will feature invited presenters as well as plenty of presentations selected from submitted abstracts. Presenters will be using the hashtag #BTCon18, which can also be used to track participants, throughout. The main @Biotweeps Twitter account will also be re-tweeting presentations.

The schedule and all abstracts can be found on the #BTCon18 website! 

 The programme consists of presentations from invited experts, as well as those from people who successfully submitted abstracts. Presentations will be scheduled in one of three time-zone regions each day:

  • Session 1: 1700 – 2100 BIOT (British Indian Ocean Time; GMT +6; CST +12)

  • Session 2: 1700 – 2100 GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time; BIOT -6; CST +6)

  • Session 3: 1700 – 2100 CST (Central Standard Time; GMT -6; BIOT -12)

The conference has nine broad themes – conservation, ecology, genetics, health\disease, interdisciplinary, molecular\micro, palaeo, science communication and technology. All sessions will be collected as Twitter Moments so that you even if you’re unable to follow the conference live, you can catch up later.

You can follow the conference by following the hashtag #BTCon18 and we encourage you to take part by asking questions (don’t forget to use the hashtag!). We look forward to talking to you.

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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!

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.