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Hard at work, or hardly working?Β 

That has always made me chuckle. And for those who are concerned, hard at work, all the time ;). But the past two weeks have been particularly super busy! Mainly in the lab. That’s a good thing I guess, in some ways at least. It means you can’t get distracted, but by working in the lab you are by definition distracted from writing.

This week, Josh and I had some tissue models come in for infections, so we grew biofilms as we do for a few days, and then infected the tissue models. All 72 of them!!

Luckily we can do the analysis in stages, so we did LDH, and then the RNA extraction, and Josh has since done his RT, which I’m yet to do. We also had some. Time in pathology, embedding the models in wax, with some help and training from the lovely lovely path guys!

So, that doesn’t sound like much but it’s taken a week to do that! And ne t up we have the sectioning and staining, microscopy, qPCR and analysis of the data then from the stained sections, more sections and use of fluorescent probes and more microscopy! Much fun to be had.

And in the background, I’ve been writing the thesis. It’s been difficult, and I wasn’t able to get as much done foe my first section (which was the lot review, and was incredibly difficult to do!) but i did get to hand in a draft of another section of a chapter, and I’m ahead of schedule (a day early of my weekly targets!) for this next one! These may only be materials and methods, but are still important and a necessary part of each chapter.

I’ve made some changes to my IADR poster and sent that for printing (paying Β£50 for the privilege! Β£30 of which was the rushed delivery haha!). Looking forward to receiving it and taking a look, fingers crossed for no typos haha. Onwards!

Next generation scientists

What a great visit. The past two days have been some of the most fun moments you can possibly have in science I’m sure.

It’s that time of year when GSK very kindly host their annual student science symposium. Once again the evening poster session and dinner was held in the beautiful Oatlands Park hotel in Weybridge, then the next day on to the GSK Oral Healthcare base. 

The evening poster session was once again full of great science from early stage PhD students (and Jonathan who despite being a third year, did a poster as well as his oral presentation!) 

The dinner was delicious, and the company was even better. Kelly, William, Chris, Jing, Jonny, Sharon and Ezra. Lovely students who are such great fun. Dinner was broken into sections with entertainment by the now infamous Jon and Dave, with their QI inspired quiz. Hilarious to say the least. 

Then came the socialising and drinks flowed freely. Such a great opportunity to really engage with people on a personal level, and make new friends. 

The oral  sessions were so inspiring. So much great research, and great presentations, from all sorts of disciplines: proteins, materials, Dentistry microbiology, tissue engineering. All of really great quality and solid science. 

I was fortunate enough to have given a talk on my next generation sequencing data (hot off the press this week!), which went down a storm. Great feedback and ideas bouncing off the results. And great contacts made which which be really useful in the future I’ve no doubt! Additionally, I had a few ideas of my own for possible collaborations and group work, so that is something I’m keen to pursue in the near future… Fingers crossed! 

Today also saw the (initial as I’m sure it will be extended,  as ever) deadline for the abstract submissions for IADR 2017 in San Francisco, California. Yep, I did get an abstract submitted so fingers crossed and watch this space for updates in the coming months of the outcome πŸ˜€

OMIG – Gregynog Hall

What a great week!

This week saw three of us from DENTL attend the Oral Microbiology and Immunology Group meeting at Gregynog Hall. Josh, Zahraa and I drove up (in a beautiful Toyota Verso) with no navigational problems this time round – after taking more than twice as long to get there last time because of a battery issue with phone leading to no sat nav, and no maps!!)

Upon arrival it was great to catch up with David B and Jon from GSK, Marcello and Dave S (OMIG committee) and the others.. We then attended the post-PhD career talk where we were given some insight into industry from Jon, and academic careers by Prof. Deirdre Devine – a wonderful woman with a wealth of academic knowledge and advice to give!

I also met a lovely student who is doing a very similar project to me, and there seems to be scope for some exchange of knowledge somewhere along the way I’ve no doubt :). My presentation went fairly well, although very nervous starting, and handsome great thought-provoking questions – particularly from Deirdre and Julian (Naglik). Josh presented really well, and handled his questions with confidence and good knowledge. After dinner, Zahraa defended her poster, again really well and with confidence – great representation for Cardiff University overall.

So it seems that the future for my research is looking pretty fruitful, and with many many external support networks/potential collaborators and just people that I can now approach for some guidance or advice, I feel in a great position moving forward and thinking longer term.

Such a great feeling attending a conference, it really fills you with motivation, confidence and gives you a great perspective on the bigger picture of your research. Cannot wait to get stuck in back in the lab again and deliver some incredible research!!

This week in review

What a week!

It didn’t feel particularly busy, because working with cells means a lot of waiting for them to…well, grow. It’s all the little bits that seem to add up and make what seems like it should be an average week, into a very not average week.

Did some flow work at the start of the week which showed the new antibody I bought in worked :D. I also had another clinical sample – a stomatitis one this time too, so excited to see what comes back off the plates for isolated bugs..and need to sort the DNA extraction for that too.. good times! Nearly half way with these samples now.

My supervisor had his reviewers comments and scores for a grant application which he needed to get on with, and has taken such a long time to get this far (fingers crossed David!), so this week was mainly focussed on establishing cell lines after the infections, making sure my bugs were viable and growing ok, trying to ship cells from Sheffield and preparing abstracts and presentations! The cells did finally arrive this week after a nightmare with the shipping, but they’re now established and growing (hopefully well!). I managed to get images of all the tissues from the batch that were infected, which took forever to do…the bloody microscope is not very easy to work with, and the x40 mag sense is awful!! Does not work at all..

Wednesday was a good day…gave a presentation at the School of Dentistry Research Day – all about biofilms and my work. Went pretty well, had some good questions (which I think I answered ok!), and some great feedback from people after the talk which is always nice to get.Β Also submitted an abstract for Biofilms7 in Porto, Portugal – a biofilms related conference (it’s in the name!) so fingers crossed for the I’ll be applying for some money to actually go haha! Priorities πŸ™‚

Next week is going to be a busy it’s half term too, so staggered days of doing things, but should work out quite well I’m sure!
Time to go and pick up the kids now though!


An early (or late) present-ation

Today I headed downstairs to the labs and bumped into Josh (friend of mine in my research group), and as we’d both submitted an abstract to OMIG for this year’s meeting, I suggested that we may hear sometime this week – as last time the response was about a week after the submission deadline.
Anyway, we had a chat and I said for him to keep an ear out toward the mid-and of the week for any news. Low and behold, literally two hours later, we received the notification email!

Both of us had received the same email stating we have accepted for oral presentation at the meeting, meaning our registration fee is to be waived! A great meeting, now made much more affordable for the group!!

The meeting is 9-11th March at Gregynog Hall, Newtown, and proves to be another great success. Looking forward to it!
DM πŸ˜€

Back to it!

So..been a while since my last post!

Whats happened since?
– I attended OMIG at Gregynog, which was my first conference. I presented a poster and won the poster prize! #Win
– I completed the MEDIC SSC project with grate success
– I attended the MITReG Conference in Cardiff and won second prize for my poster
– I passed my first year progress monitoring with no problems πŸ˜€

– A paper on which I was second author was published int he journal Biofouling. It encompasses my first years work and having spent an amazing year working with Yuri Cavalcanti, we managed to get this done.
– I went to Boston, MA, USA for the IADR conference and was accepted for an oral presentation
– I had another son – Oliver!
– I passed my second year progress monitoring with no problems
– I attended 3 conferences in 3 weeks; BSODR, Cardiff (oral presentation;) CITER, Bristol (oral) awarded Highly Commended; and GSK symposium in Weybridge (oral).
– I co-founded the Early Stage Researcher Peer Support Group (ESRPSG) with Kirsty which is going well
– I helped organise a conference (PGR Day) and was tasked with organising the external speaker (Robin Ince – what a guy!!)
– I spent 3 weeks in Sheffield University with Craig Murdoch and his group (Lucie, Luke) learning tissue model growth, which I’ve just started back in Cardiff too πŸ™‚

Theres probably a lot more that I’ve just forgotten…but thats enough for now!

2016 has started slowly..with lots of things taking forever to get established, and things not working, but onwards and upwards so they say!

Teaching and Learning, OMIG 2014

I really dislike PCR. There. I said it.

OK, maybe I don’t really dislike PCR, but I don’t like when experiments don’t work. I find it hard to acknowledge the fact that doing a PhD is 10% intelligence and 90% is very different in industry; if it doesn’t work, you leave it, or try one other thing to make it work.

Academic research is very different.. it brings to mind the phrase “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again”. However, I had made a monumentally ridiculous transcription error (see what I did there!). Having had the PCR master mix recipe in my book (written by my PI for me), I had somehow managed to re-write this but during the copying over from one page to another, make a mistake in the volume of MgCl2 to add.. It went from 30uL to 5uL although I have no idea how I could have possibly done this..

Anyway, long story short, four failed PCR runs later, I decided to double check the master mix total volume..which didn’t add up, so decided then to check my PIs master mix and found the potential problem. the only other problem is that I have now spent hundreds of pounds on new reagents that I might not have even needed in the first place!!! My fingers and toes are crossed for tomorrow when Lucy kindly runs a gel for me to confirm amplification..picture to follow!

On a brighter note, I was accepted for a poster presentation for the OMIG meeting at Gregynog on the 12-14 March (tomorrow!!). So, five drafts of my poster later, and I picked up my final copy, perfectly printed (as far as I could tell after a quick glance) in A1 for presentation on Thursday (picture to follow too!). The hire car will be with me about 9am, leave mid-day and pick up Kirsty on the way through to Gregynog..looking forward to getting there and having the two course dinner πŸ˜€ (simple things πŸ™‚ )

I finally met my first year undergrad MEDIC students this week too – in four groups, I gave a presentation of my PhD project in brief, and what the students are going to be doing as part of their practical project that I proposed a few months back. They all seem really excited to be doing it which is great, although not many of them knew much about microbiology, or candidosis..they will learn pretty quickly though I’m sure!


Monday blues through to TGIF!

Monday morning came too quickly this week. Sat (what I hope to be) the last exam for he foreseeable future; Biomedical methods research techniques, and was hard work! A lot about protein work, cell culture, bioinformatics but very little microbiology (one page of twelve total!) so not a particularly equal spread of questions over the course! Such a shame..but fingers crossed now until the results.

With the dreaded exam over, the rest of the week should really have been easy going – just get on with in vitro biofilm growth, confocal analysis on Wednesday, start again on Thurs and do adherence assays with more fluorescence analysis.. but no, this week had to be difficult!

Tuesday and wednesday came and went, the biofilms were analysed via confocal down at BioSci with Mark (who I hadn’t met previously..lovely guy, very helpful). Candida samples were great, worked well and got a few good images .. Streps however..grr! Managed somehow to get some kind of (what looks like Candida) contamination!, and there were some issues with the acrylic too, so couldn’t really get particularly great confocal images. On a good point though, biofilm thickness was about 25 microns again which is what I had hoped for (consistent with previous results, and some papers I have found since) :).

Thursday..what a pain, Cardiff Uni (dental school) have something called TESS..its a seminar series with invited speakers and internal speakers. now it hasn’t been running for quite some time, but this week was a visiting speaker looking at something completely outside of my research area, and of no real academic interest whatsoever to me personally (for others, it was very close to their projects so for them it was perfect!). But this seminar was compulsory for PhD students…compulsory! right in the middle of the day..when I should have been preparing to inoculate my that was scrapped for continuation today. Then today I realised that I said I would take Yuri to the confocal lab for his again, I couldn’t do an awful lot with my experiments! I did manage to get quite a few words written for my first year substantial report, but glad this week is over and can hit the ground running Monday morning! Cannot wait!!!


Oh, on another side note, I had an abstract accepted for a poster presentation at Gregynog in March πŸ™‚ (didn’t get the oral presentation, but a poster is good none the less!!) So excited to give my FIRST poster presentation in this PhD, really looking forward to it πŸ˜€