All posts by Nick Johnston

Science Uncovered 2017

The ESRs based at QUB recently attended a public engagement event. Here’s Panos with his thoughts:

Science Uncovered, which has been held in over 300 European cities for many years, took place on Friday September 29th with great success. The venue where European Researchers’ Night 2017 took place – Ulster Museum – was flooded with people; it attracted young and old alike. The audience, with particular love, embraced this multidisciplinary scientific event and listened to a variety of scientific talks, met young researchers, and participated dynamically in this fascinating tour of the world of science, research and technology.

public

It turns out that science keeps not only the interest of the public but also of the scientists/researchers themselves. The REMEDIATE team was there with Panagiotis, Tatiana, and Ricardo to welcome the public and speak about “Monitoring & clean up of contaminants using natural microbial batteries”, “Bioaccessibility of heavy metals in urban areas” and “Gene sequencing of contaminated groundwater (Do bugs catch colds?)”. We were asked a number of great questions, and enjoyed talking to everyone who came to our stand, as well as meeting other researchers who were at the event.

stand photo

To learn more about Science Uncovered and the participating research groups, visit the Ulster Museum website

https://www.nmni.com/whats-on/science-uncovered

science uncovered

EUROANALYSIS 2017 – the noob’s perspective

A great post from Nenad, the Remediate ESR based at UDE. He travelled to Sweden to attend a conference.
nenad poster

I spent the last few days of August in Stockholm, Sweden, attending the 19th EUROANALYSIS conference, one of the biggest analytical chemistry conferences organized in Europe. This was the first conference I have attended for REMEDIATE and therefore I feel the need to share my experiences with the readers of the REMEDIATE blog.

Organizers and participants

The conference was organized by the Analytical Chemistry Division of the Swedish Chemical Society, in collaboration with the European Chemical Sciences’ Division of Analytical Chemistry and the Swedish Pharmaceutical Society, and despite having “EURO” in its name, it gathered chemists from all around the globe, from Brazil to Japan, from South Africa to Canada. Around 500 of them, to be precise.

Lectures

Aside from the afternoon opening ceremony, Monday was the day for short courses that were taking place from the early morning on. There were many topics to choose from, but one was particularly interesting to me – Solid phase micro-extraction (SPME), offered by Janusz Pawliszyn from the University of Waterloo, inventor of said technique. Because of my own research I am well accounted with SPME, and following the course wasn’t difficult at all, although in 3 hours we covered 30 years of the SPME’s past and at least 10 years of its future. Inspired by the prospects to which I was introduced, full of ideas for improving my own work, I left the lecture room and went to the opening ceremony and first plenary lecture. There, Klaus Unger from Johannes Gutenberg University talked about the history of separation sciences, all the way from their infancy to present day capabilities and challenges. Afterwards, we had the time to display our posters, register, briefly check out who the other participants were, and briefly meet some of them.
On Tuesday, Luigi Mondello from University of Messina compared different multidimensional approaches in coupling chromatography to mass spectrometry, with anemphasis on marine organism lipidomics. Afterwards, Marja-Liisa Riekkola from University of Helsinki presented the work of her group; studying the formation of aerosol particles in the air. Both presentations emphasized the importance of pushing the limits of instrumental analysis even further to unravel the mechanisms behind complicated processes that are happening in the environment.
After the plenary lectures, we had some time to check-out the first group of posters and make contacts with other researchers.
I ended the day by attending session in separation sciences, where lecturers presented their work on nano-LC, tips for improving UPLC conditions, open-tubular LC columns, scaling down and transferring methods to different instruments without the loss of separation efficiency.
The most interesting day for me, however, was Wednesday. It started with a plenary lecture by Stefan Hell from Göttingen’s Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. Although my background in imaging and microscopy is very thin, listening to a Nobel Prize laureate talking about STED microscopy turned out to be much easier than I expected. The presenter covered, in very clear, simple and effective way even the most difficult and technical details of his work, ending his talk with some fresh results and future challenges that his laboratory will tackle. Probably the most interesting lecture throughout the conference followed, and it was given by Mario Thevis from the German Sport University Cologne. He concentrated on the analytical work done by his laboratory in order to test professional athletes during major sport events all around the world, such as the Olympic Games. In an extremely charming and engaging way, he demonstrated how far the athletes and their medical advisors are ready to go, just to get the extra boost in strength and stamina, and how creative chemists must be in order to detect those who are “stacking the deck” by abusing forbidden substances. The day continued by having poster sessions of the second group of posters and lecture sessions in imaging, environmental analysis, and electrochemistry.

My 15 minutes of fame

Thursday was my day. Finally, the third group of posters, the group in which my poster was located, was to be visited by attendees. Immediately after arriving to my poster I realized I have made a huge rookie mistake – not enough business cards and no A4 printouts of my poster. Despite that, determined to leave the best possible impression on my audience I explained to everybody who was willing to listen the importance of what I do, how useful it can be, how tough are the challenges that I have to overcome and how everything fits into a big picture called REMEDIATE. Judging by the number of people I talked to and the interest they demonstrated for individual elements of my work, I’d say I did a pretty decent job for a noob. I couldn’t offer a printout, nor a business card, but I think my enthusiasm and interesting story were enough to buy their attention for 10 to 15 minutes. Contacts were made, and comments that I received resulted in some new ideas for the continuation of my experiments.

Summary

All in all, in a very short period of time, I had the opportunity to meet and presented my work to various kinds of people. Their cultural, professional or educational background varied greatly, but the big number of participants ensured that there was always at least a dozen people with whom I shared similar problems, opinions, or interests. Therefore, establishing contacts was not that hard. Presenters were very interesting, regardless of the topics of their lectures, and most of them represented the very top in their own respective fields of research.

Although quite non-specific and broad, this conference was a great opportunity for a young researcher like me to get a grasp of where the final frontiers of the modern analytical chemistry stand. I will definitively try to attend the next one in Istanbul in 2019.

AquaConSoil 2017

Tatiana Cocerva and a number of the other Remediate ESRs went to ACS2017 this summer. Enjoy her great summary of the events they all enjoyed!

Working hard setting up experiments, getting the expected results, and publishing your work in great journals are all key goals for a researcher; communicating your research at a conference is also a professionally valuable experience.
This year, REMEDIATE participants had the opportunity to attend the AquaConSoil Conference that took place in Lyon, France on the 26th-30th June 2017. This event brought together students, scientists, industry professionals, and policy makers from all over the world. Presentations covered the areas of sustainable use and management of soil, sediment, and water resources.

speakers

Sabrina, Tatiana, Stacie, Panagiotis, Yi, Morteza, Diogo, and Neha (REMEDIATE Early Stage Researchers) presented their research to a wide audience in a special session “Improved decision making for contaminated land site investigation and risk assessment”, chaired by Professor Frederic Coulon (supervisor at Cranfield University). It was a very interesting session, after which we received valuable feedback and appreciation of our work. Ricardo, Coren, and Peter chose to disseminate their work in a poster session, where they actively engaged with other conference attendees, and exchanged ideas with many of them.

posters

 Being a researcher should be challenging and fun
Social events and informal meetings are the best way to create new collaborations and build new friendships. What can be more rewarding than having dinner with your colleagues after a full day of listening to interesting presentations and meeting nice people? The REMEDIATE team added researchers and new friends from Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Chile to its network.

dinner 1

The conference dinner was organised in a friendly atmosphere where REMEDIATE supervisors and researchers socialised with different conference attendees in a relaxed, informal environment. Tatiana engaged in interesting discussions with the team from BRGM (French geological survey), and found that they shared a similar network and friends in France. What a happy coincidence! After dinner, a DJ boosted everyone’s energy and we all remembered that professional people can combine research and fun.

Tatiana Cocerva with a part of the BRGM team; Photo by BRGM

We are very grateful to all the organisers for this amazing, memorable conference. This was a great experience for all of us and we were inspired, challenged, and more motivated in our work. We look forward to attending the next conference with the same positive mood!

bridge

 

Summer School in Raadvad

Neha Mehta gives us her thoughts on the second REMEDIATE Summer School, which was held at Lyngby Vandrerhejm. Thanks to Lisbeth Axelsen and Kristian Brandt for their hard work in organising a great week!

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Thanks, Web of Science!

This is how every one of us feels after finding a paper that describes a statistical approach to the experiments we are doing. Nanoseconds of utmost joy, a colossal amount of gratitude towards the author, the publisher, and Web of Science for sharing the knowledge. And what if the same concept is shared by someone to us through a talk? This knowledge sharing while giving appropriate examples from different  studies was done by the tutors at Summer School 2.
This summer school promised to hone our skills in statistical applications and paper writing. This was actually an understatement. The truth is that we were immersed in a captivating series of lectures, rewarding discussions, and individual study time to apply newly learned concepts to our own projects. Summer School gave us the chance to learn things like:

The importance of microbiology in risk assessment
Remediation of contaminated sites is a complex, lengthy, and costly procedure. To decide the remediation goals, it thus becomes imperative to understand the risks to human health and environment due to contaminants. Most of the environmental risk assessment framework used for decision making at present only accounts for chemical analysis. It seems equally important to understand the health of soil in terms of the microorganisms; the effect of metal content on the growth and development of microorganism colonies, as much as knowing the total metal concentration and their bioavailability. To further elaborate our understanding on the subject we visited the Collstrop site to see how different contaminants may cause risk to environment.

Environmental risk assessment methods should try to reveal the soil health in terms of ecology, toxicity, and chemical analysis as defined in the TRIAD approach.

SS collstrop

Paper writing skills
Correcting one report, modifying the next; hopping from one experiment to another; meandering from one university to a different university for a secondment; presenting a poster, giving an oral presentation; preparing a to-do list to glancing at a done list; scheduling ICP-MS time to learning SEM; running a code on R to installing MATLAB: life is always a roller-coaster. Amidst all this, one thought that keeps on popping into our brains: AM I GOOD AT WRITING?
The problem was solved by the session on paper writing that told us that every researcher should first identify themselves as a writer. How a simple thing like saving the bibliography in a separate folder for the article we are working on right now, can save a lot of time. The introduction should always follow a funnel approach and we should first start working on the body of the article were some of the tips shared to make writing easier.

Like all things that are worthwhile, it takes time to publish; it also gets easier with practice. So don’t wait any longer. Start writing that paper now.

SS paper writing

Presentation Skills
This time we had a project meeting just before the summer school. Every presentation was recorded on a video camera. Supervisors were given a form to comment on the presentation skills of the ESRs.
Ohhh no… I did not rehearse… you did not tell us… this is not fair, we just came yesterday night and did not get a proper sleep. Yes, this is how we all reacted to the idea of Julie-Anne and Nick. But we had a sigh of relief, when these forms and videos were shown to us again in groups and we had chance to discuss among ourselves on how we can improve. There was no mentor, no supervisor telling us we were right or wrong. We were all friends set on a mission to improve ourselves, to help each other, looking at videos, eating the evening snacks and telling each other.

We may have discovered a simple procedure to help in the remediation of brownfield sites, now we should get out there and tell everyone.

Discipline
Preparing for next set of experiments in lab at night to submitting a report in wee hours of morning. We all have control of our schedules. One of the biggest benefit of being a PhD student is that we have all the freedom to plan our day according to the workload. In such a scenario, we often fall out of daily routine.
So here came lessons on discipline. Summer School was organised at away from the hub-bub of Copenhagen. So if we woke up late and missed the breakfast, there was no 7Eleven nearby. Lunch timings and dinner timings were fixed. Finishing dinner till 7:00 pm led to a situation when some of us were running in night, starving and looking in each other’s room for food. This is how we were all given a chance to live a healthy life. Waking up early to attend lectures, going for long walks to see deers and stroll on the beach in the evening, getting to sleep on time kept us motivated and energetic throughout. It was also important for inculcating self discipline.

Self discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something and you don’t talk back.
W.K. Hope

SS dinner

Statistical methods and application of R
Hovering a cursor from MS Word to MS Excel; writing an email, to using Mendeley for managing my bibliography; plotting maps on QGIS, to using SURFER for interpolating the data: we forget to pay heed to R, or to any statistcial software for that matter.
Somehow, everything that we forget or do not pay attention to, was included in the program of Summer School. The session on application of R taught us about writing code and data analysis using linear regression method, Principal Component Analysis and clustering approaches.

Statistical methods provide us with the conceptual foundations in quantitative reasoning to extract information from the sea of data.

Team Building
Missing a call from one of our fellow researchers, replying late on WhatsApp; looking at our Facebook feed, finding out about our friend’s achievement through Researchgate: there are multiple occasions when we find ourselves guilty of not remaining in touch with our friends. When an interdisciplinary project has students in five different countries, this is something that is bound to happen. To make the bonds of friendship stronger, no stones were left unturned by the organisers. We spent one of our evenings at Dyrehavsbakken Amusement Park. It is the world’s oldest amusement park. Pedaling cycles to the park, holding each other’s hands on a horror ride, shouting together in another ride gave a joyful refreshment to our friendship.

Away from the city, in a lush green location, learning from people who know their subject down to the minutest detail. Lessons not just on science, but on every aspect of being a successful researcher, was definitely a wonderful experience.

SS fairground

Life after a PhD

Stacie Tardif brings us some lessons from those who have walked the path before us

The Danish Academy of Sciences and Papers recently hosted an event for PhD researchers in Denmark and their transition into post-doctoratal positions. Several guest speakers from very different backgrounds were invited to speak about their journey into their career, and to provide some insight and advice to us youngsters. With looming statistics

Taylor, Martin et al. (2010) [1]

Taylor, Martin et al. (2010) [1]

claiming that only a small percentage (0.45% in the UK [1]) of individuals will make it to full professorship, it is inherently clear that we must start thinking early on about exploring different career options. We received all sorts of advice, from detailed information regarding grant application opportunities in Denmark, to more personal anecdotal stories and reflections on what these individuals wished they knew before starting off their careers.  Several themes recurred throughout the day:

  • Be a risk taker and take part of high risk/high return projects
  • Is academia really for you? Have a plan B
  • Go abroad and move away from your PhD supervisor
  • Find a mentor
  • Build a personal brand and generalist profile
  • Don’t wait, apply for your own grants

The chairman of The Carlsberg Foundation, Professor Flemming Besenbacher, started off the day with an inspiring talk, appealing to our generation to embrace scientific social responsibility. He stated that the 21st centuries’ current global issues such as food production, water resources, and climate change can only be tackled with breakthrough innovations, and therefore as young individuals in society, he urged us to be risk takers:

World Economic Forum (2015) [2]

21st Century skills
World Economic Forum (2015) [2]

take part in innovative and interesting research which may ultimately result in fewer publications but will be much more substantial in impact. He also maintained that we should start considering other options than academia. As PhD researchers, we are currently developing numerous transferable skills which have been outlined in a recent report by the World Economic Forum [2] to be critically important in order to prosper in today’s society. As such, it is important to reflect on our personal competencies which may or may not be appropriate for the pace and space of academia. Professor Besenbacher counseled us to keep the following in mind when thinking of our future careers:

6 key elements for career planning:

  1. Understand yourself
  2. Develop your strengths
  3. Work with the best
  4. Share your success
  5. Innovate, don’t imitate
  6. Always work efficiently

Step 1 & 2- Know yourself and research your options

  • What skills/competences do you want to use?
  • What motivates you?
  • What values are important to you?
  • What kind of career do you want?
  • What type of work environment do you enjoy working in?
  • How should your workday be structured?
  • What do you want from your career?

Step 3 & 4-Set goals and make a plan

  • Make an informed decision about what is right for you and maybe have an idea for plan B
  • Prepare to jump: network your CV and cover letter and practice your elevator pitch!

Regardless of our future in academia or not, the skills required to write an excellent grant application are highly transferable to writing up successful job applications. Throughout the day we received lots of good advice on the ins and outs of grant applications. Before starting the process of writing a grant or applying for a job position, strong emphasis is placed on reading the call, paying particularly close attention to the small subsections that describe the assessment criteria. It sounds silly to highlight, however, it seems to be one of the main reasons why applications are rejected. No matter how qualified the person or brilliant the idea, with a pile of imminent applications ahead of them, members of the panel are likely to be running on little to no sleep, and looking for reasons to shrink their pile.

Grant applications are all about you, your network and your great idea! But what is a great idea, you may ask?

  • Original and inventive
  • Well motivated in terms of impact
  • Grounded in and relevant to research fields

The panel, which in many cases is comprised of 5% of researchers from your specific field vs. 95% from other related but different disciplines, want to understand your great idea! As a result, it is imperative to keep it focused, simple and concise. Many applications have very strict page limits (do not put anything in the appendices, the panel is not allowed to read them) but it is important to keep in mind that other people have the same restrictions as yourself, and so it is doable. Do not repeat the same information in the application as this is a waste of space and time for members of the panel. To save space, make use of figures and charts (e.g. Gantt charts) which can incorporate a lot of information in a small amount of space. Applying for funding through industrial post-doctorate positions is another way to go. These are typically 1-3 year positions carried out by a recent PhD graduate (under 5 years after graduation in Denmark) that have an industrial focus. It involves teaming up with a mentor in a public sector institution (academia) as well as a mentor within a company. You are extremely cheap labor and therefore it is inherently benefitial to the company (and yourself of course) to have you there so don’t be intimidated to approach companies with your great idea. In addition, several databases and professional matchmaking clusters are available to graduates seeking these types of opportunities. Most importantly, industrial post-doctorate grant applications in Denmark resulted in a 50% success rate in 2016 and a predicted 45% success rate in 2017. This is significantly higher than grants awarded for post-doctorate grants in the public sector. These positions can also serve as a foot in the door and a stepping stone to a more permanent position within the company.

Here are some grants to apply for in Denmark (similar one’s can be found in most countries); keep in mind that most of the time, these grants are not tied with citizenship:

Other speakers throughout the day highlighted the importance of moving away from your supervisor and going abroad. This, at least in Denmark, seems to give you an edge over other candidates as you are not only developing your skills as a researcher and broadening your perspectives/ideas and visions, but also developing an international network which makes you very competitive. Debate was underway regarding the ease of movement once established with a family, however with proper preparation, one speaker even moved her entire family including children to another continent.

Image by Angelo Su via Image Source

Image by Angelo Su via Image Source

The importance of finding good mentors along the way was empahised on several occasions. These mentors can advise you on scientific matter, introduce your to relevant networks and people and help you understand the mechanisms and unwritten roles of funder organizations such as the public, private and research councils. Finding several different mentors along the way is also a good idea as they can advise you and teach you different approaches, skills and techniques. You will, of course, benefit in different ways depending on the mentor but finding at least one mentor that has the same interests/visions as you will be extremely valuable in the long run. Lastly, it is absolutely crucial that trust and honesty is built between you and your mentor. It is imperative that your mentor is able to tell you some hard truths along the way, if required.

Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Image Source

Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Image Source

 

It is important to understand that positions in academia are exceedingly competitive and there is some value in building a generalist profile, which can be adapted to several positions in different institutions. Instead of specializing very narrowly in a certain area, it may benefit you in the long run to have a profile and track record that is flexible.

 

“Uncertainty is the new normal: complexity is increasing and therefore this calls for a paradigm shift in science” 
Professor Basenbacher

As such, adaptability is crucial. It is also important to build a personal brand and work on your 30 second elevator speech. People want to know what you do but will quickly lose interest if you go into too much detail. If you are able to boil it down to several simple keywords/buzzwords, people will be able to categorize you, put you in a box and ultimately, shuffle you from one box to another depending on their needs. As academics, branding may seem like something that belongs in the business world, but try to think of it as being a recognizable expert or specialist in “blank” discipline. As your “brand” grows, this may open up new opportunities in the form of interviews, publications, podcasts, invited speaker talks and even local TV gigs and most importantly, new collaborations.

The most important advice we received that day was to be passionate about our work and to love what we do. Without this, success, whether that is through the academic route or otherwise, will be fleeting and somewhat anti-climactic. Needless to say, I walked out of the room feeling inspired and with a sense of urgency to get to work, be innovative, take risks and enjoy the ride!

For more detailed information about the day’s proceedings and individual speaker’s presentations use the following link: http://www.youngacademy.dk/da/Aktiviteter/Phd%20seminar.aspx

References

1.            Taylor, M., B. Martin, and J. Wilsdon, The scientific century: securing our future prosperity. 2010: The Royal Society.

2.            Forum, W.E. New vision for education: Unlocking the potential of technology. 2015. World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Golden rules to be the perfect secondment host

As part of their training, REMEDIATE ESRs go on secondments to other beneficiaries or partner organisations to benefit from the expertise and experience of their hosts. Sabrina Cipullo has some ideas for making the experience great for everyone!

You receive a friendly e-mail from your colleague, where they show their interest in a secondment at your institution. The pressure is on! You may be of a calm disposition, but see how that fares when you’re screaming at the ICPMS for breaking down once again, while remembering that you never picked up the box of consumables you ordered the day before, and you just missed the compulsory morning Heath and Self briefing. Well fear not, practice makes perfect; here are a few simple tips to ensure the secondment is a raging hit. My advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience: I embraced the stumbles and screw ups, and turned them into powerful lessons like the ones below.

Before

As the host, you have the main role – plan early. Do a Noah and build your arc before the rains come: get as much done in advance as possible. There is no shame in recruiting a little help; sit with your secretary (hopefully you have one at your institution), review all the necessary steps, and do all your sweating and swearing beforehand. Make sure you know all the potential weaknesses of the system and the necessary steps to be taken for overseas travellers (e.g. getting a visa). Planning time is precious since your colleague might stay only for couple of weeks, so make sure all the precautions are taken for things to run smoothly.Make yourself available to help during the planning, also local phone calls are cheaper for you! When helping your colleague finding an accommodation, think carefully about price, and also the location. It might take a while to get familiar with the public transport. Take a look at other properties near you: what do the hosts charge? Finding accommodation might be particularly challenging, especially in more isolated places. Some host institutions cannot guarantee a place on campus during peak season, therefore other options should be explored. Airbnb is a reasonable solution for short stays, but you have to make sure your friend are ready to accept that they might have to make small talk with strangers over their dinner, which sometimes can be intimidating.

Once you have sorted out accommodation, you need to make sure that the landlord can provide a receipt or a proof of payment for your colleague to claim back. It is important you clarify what the other institutions expect to receive. Before arrival provide several contact numbers (landlord, main student reception, security, and maybe also your supervisor’s phone number) in case of emergency, it can be really stressful as a guest if you can’t find your accommodation and can’t get hold of the host.

During

A good host not only helps planning the accommodation and travel, but since you know your University (institution) better than anyone else, you have to plan all the aspect of your colleague’s stay! There are many chances to interact with host life through websites, virtual tours, and social media. However, visiting the campus will give your colleague a real sense of the atmosphere, so you could arrange a guided tour to meet staff and fellow students, see the faculty, visit the local pub and restaurant, and more.

collage

Make sure your colleague is aware of all the student union meetings, lab meetings, and other relevant ways of getting involved. Being an active member in the department can help him/her to gain a better understanding of what opportunities are out there and build a wider network. This is also a good way not to be stuck in front of a computer or in a lab all day, it adds variety to the day which can help decrease the risk of burnout.

It is also very important to ‘help others out’ without losing your own focus. Your positive impact on the world comes when you’re happy, so you really need to make sure you have a plan, a schedule to keep up with your everyday lab-life, but also being able to support and help your colleague visiting. If the rewards aren’t immediately apparent, contributing to the success of others pays off in the long run. Sometimes t’s difficult to say no to co-workers, but keep in mind that they are the one able appreciate your work and they will always be willing to help you out when you need it. After all, you have to remember that what is obvious for you (the drawer with the funnels, that 1 ml pipette that doesn’t work, or the balance in plant science that you are not allowed to use…) might not be obvious to someone who just got there.

Make sure you clarify what they expect from you and what you expect from them. Also you need to review and rehearse potential methods, protocols, and explanations. Be authentic, conversational, and real. Have a point of view. Bring something to the party. Own it. Time is crucial so make sure your explanations are clear and comprehensive. Essentially you’re saying, “Let me show you. See what I mean? Now look. Do you get the picture?”

The most critical skill is time management, finding a good structure to the day and keeping a day planner helps keep various demands in order. Structure and sticking to set times to write, read, and lab work can be particularly challenging (and stressful) when dealing with equipment, instruments, and people. It is important to set aside time from your research and books to take a break, what a better moment than sharing some time off at the café with your colleague? You can take a walk around the campus – hopefully no need for umbrellas – and have the time to recharge, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

Now you’re ready. You are the perfect secondment host.

collage2

After

I want to thank Stacie for being always interested, motivated, and curious about research. I really had a good time with her, and I am glad that our friendship is not dependant on mood swings and bad hair days. Thanks for your support.

I also wanted to thank Coren, for knowing exactly when to tell me what I want to hear, when I want to hear it the most. I consider myself very fortunate for having a chance to work with both of them. It was a great learning experience for me. I wish we had more time to spend together outside work, and visit the UK a little, but I really hope you will come back soon!

Celebrating Science History

By Ricardo Costeira

In 1917, while working with bacterial isolates from wounded World War soldiers in France, Félix d’Herelle published what he called the discovery of “an invisible, antagonistic microbe of the dysentery bacillus”. d’Herelle had  discovered bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria. One hundred years later, phage research is intrinsically linked to other major scientific events: from the identification of DNA as the genetic material, all the way to the discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems.

This year, it was with excitement that I I flew to Paris to attend the 100th anniversary celebration of bacteriophage research at Institut Pasteur, the “cradle” of bacteriophages and, arguably, the most important microbiology research institute in the world.

Over the course of 3 days, I was honoured to listen to world-class scientists sharing major breakthroughs in phage research and, as a REMEDIATE scientist working on environmental virology myself, I received the honour of sharing my own findings with the rest of the phage scientific community in what was a very special event.

From studies on global ocean viromes and biogeochemical cycling, to studies on phage therapies as solutions for antibiotic resistance, these 3 days in Paris showed that phage research is booming all around the world and that it is as important as ever before. One can only wonder what the next 100 years of phage research will bring!

group photo