What a “Wonderful World of Microbiology” Event

By: Caroline Elaine

The School of Biomedical, Nutritional, and Sport Sciences hosted a recent microbiology event, advertised with posters around the School, email to all students and on social media platforms such as the School’s Instagram and Facebook. As a result, many students became aware of this event, including my friends and me.  

The poster that was everywhere in the school and sent to us by email

We were excited to meet lecturers, researchers, and Ph.D. students, and see what they are doing for their research. The best part?…. There were tours of the laboratories where they performed their research. These are the reasons why my friends and I decided to join the event. 

So, what happened during the event? 

I had a pretty calm day that day because I only had two lectures that ended at 1 p.m., which was convenient because I could simply go to the event, which was held in the Dame Margaret Barbour Building at 1.30 p.m. 

After my friends and I waited for a while, more people began to arrive at the event, and it quickly became crowded. There were groups of researchers, lecturers, Ph.D. students, and others inside the event room. There were many table with computer screens each with a different research group. There were also poster boards with research posters and we were encouraged to go and talk to the microbiologists, listen about their research and ask questions. 

Different tables with microbiologists showcasing their research


One area of research that piqued my interest was the research of Professor Tracy Palmer on S. aureus, a bacterium that is commonly present in the human nose, it can live there and cause no problems. However, if S. aureus gets into the wrong place it can become a pathogen that can cause diseases such as pneumonia. Prof. Palmer’s group was working on the mechanisms that cause S. aureus to become pathogenic and kill other cells, as well as the antibiotics that can be developed to treat them. These researchers conduct research on S. aureus by injecting bacteria into zebrafish and analysing what happens to the fish and the bacteria using a fluorescent dye and confocal and light microscopy.

It was very cool and super interesting!

Me and my friends listening to the research about S. aureus.

Another aspect of microbiology that I heard about during the event but had not thought about before was that of oral microbiology. I heard about research into opportunistic pathogens such as P. aeruginosa that can cause severe infections in the mouth and can be resistant to antimicrobials. I was immediately drawn into visiting this table due to the array of interesting skulls they had!

Microbiology researchers from the Dental School with an array of skulls.

We heard about yeast research, RNA polymerase, protein purification, antimicrobial resistance research and more. It really was a fascinating event and such a great opportunity to meet researchers and find out more about their work.

Phone microscope

We got to turn our phones into microscopes and look at the world around us through a different lens!

Instructions for how to turn our phones into microscopes

Lab Tours 

Then came the most exciting part of the event for me: the lab tours. A group of six people, including myself and my friends, were taken to the Cookson Building’s second-floor lab first. We were shown the bacteria room; were bacteria is stored in some incubators and refrigerators with different temperatures set at different levels. We also saw broth culture being swirled inside a shaking machine. Then we went into another room, which was the lab where the Ph.D. students were working. We saw a lot of bottle glasses with buffers in them, as well as a lot of other scientific machines like centrifuges, electrophoresis, and so on. 

It was amazing to see a real-life research lab!

Following that, we visited the lab in the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology building. There are ten research teams working on different microbiology studies within this building. First, we went to see a super high-tech-looking microscope that can observe live bacteria to study how they divide, and the proteins involved in the division process. Then we went to see the Lab inside the building, which looked like the lab in the Cookson building, complete with the many iconic buffer bottles. 

A super-resolution microscope was used by researchers to analyse living bacteria, btw did u see the cute googly eyes?
Photo by Caroline Elaine

Those tours marked the end of the event. My friends and I had a great time at the event because we got to see real researchers’ workstations and ask them questions about their work. We really hope that there will be another event like this in the future where we can see where and what the researchers are studying.  

Students’ Opinion

“This event was excellent”

“I am glad that an event like this is being held and it gives the opportunity to first years students to get an insight into the microbiology world.”

“I found this event really beneficial in understanding more about microbiology. And how there’s more to it than we know of.”

We asked students to write a word or two to highlight the event. These are their answers:

One or two word feedback from the event

Want to learn more about microbiology as part of one of our undergraduate degrees within BNS?

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