Blog Archive

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fiftieth Post! 10 things I've learnt over that time

This is my fiftieth blog post! What?! It's gone so fast! It's also pretty dead-on six months (give or take a day or three) since I started. It's flown by! I thought I'd mark it by doing a post of ten things I've learnt over the last fifty posts/six months. (I've only actually thought of nine right now but I'm hoping one will come to me as I write the rest!)
So here we go:

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Xenobiology; Microbial life on other planets!

When we think of aliens we think of invaders from other worlds, Sigourney Weaver being badass and Arnold Schwarzenegger directing people towards waiting air transport (while also being badass). But, at least in our own solar system, it's most likely that any life we find out there will be microbial. This makes sense; they're much better at living in conditions different to the normal Earth ones! We may have warm jumpers and air conditioning, but there aren't many people who are happy to reproduce in acid lakes or at the bottom of the ocean in hydrothermal vents. Microbes 1, Humans 0.
So are we going to all get crazy space diseases if they come to Earth, much like the end of War of the Worlds when the aliens all get flu?
I'm not an expert in this, I just think it's a cool topic so wanted to write a post on it! There's a lot more to say so it might return in the future, like alien herpes.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Lions! Tigers! Bacillus thuringiensis...? Where are the snappy bacteria names?

In line with my earlier post ( on the scientific language and the barrier it imposes, even the names of microbes pose a problem for this. Especially as they're often a mix of Latin, Greek and Science, which just confuses everyone even more. We call Ursus arcticus a brown bear, Canis lupus familiaris a dog, but there aren't any easy familiar words for microbes. Apart from Yeast, the rockstar of the microbial world, things are either referred to by the name of the disease they cause or just by the long, hard-to-say binomial names. Is that fair?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Speaking Science

Scientists love big complex words. I've spent this week isolating halophilic endophytes, for example. But why do we do that? And what does it do to the public image of science?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

What makes me a Scientist?

Science is all about asking questions. But every answer brings further questions; this is why Science never stops! Especially if the original answer is 'I don't know, go and find out!'
This is what drives us forwards; curiosity. Scientists are just people who can't stop asking questions about absolutely everything. As XKCD aptly put it;
Image from XKCD

I think that's a big part of how you become a scientist; you just need to ask questions!

Sunday, 31 July 2016


Time for something new! Time for a monthly blog post series, with little mini-interviews of PhD students around the world! Time for…


The idea behind this is to showcase PhD students, give a bit of an idea of what’s going on out there in PhDland, and show to the world what PhD life is like! Perhaps they are thinking of doing a PhD themselves, or just generally want to know more about it. Or they’re already doing a PhD and want to see that they’re not alone in their struggles or successes!

While Friendly Bacteria is a vaguely microbiology-themed blog, for this series of mini-interviews I’m wanting any PhD student no matter the field! I think it will be a fun way to connect with other PhD students we wouldn’t normally be able to get to know, too.

If you’re a PhD student and want to get involved with this, leave a comment here, send me a DM on Twitter ( @friendlybugblog ) or shine the Bacteria-signal into the skies above Aberystwyth and I’ll send you the questions!

 I'll go first:

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Science is so ridiculously exciting!

I love it. I really do.

I just had a massive meeting with my whole supervisory team (which is quite a lot of people!) which I was terrified about beforehand. I was shaking like a leaf! But it wasn't a meeting with scary supervisors; it was a meeting with fellow scientists, who are all as excited about my project as I am! They just happen to be my supervisors/lab manager. (I do this every time! I get really scared until they remind me that we're all really happy enthusiastic scientists, and they're all lovely people!)