Blog Archive

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!)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

My Bacteria Senses are Tingling

Bacteria experience a completely different world to us. We see things on a comparatively huge scale, sampling the air with our noses, feeling the textures of surfaces  that it would take billions of bacteria to cover with a simple brush of the hand and taking in light of enough frequencies to form a detailed picture of the world. But what do bacteria see? How do they experience the world they inhabit?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

What are Friendly Bacteria? (First science video!)

For months I've been wanting to make science videos (rather than just sunset timelapses or videos of fun adventures I have) , and for weeks I've been working on it on and off. So here it is: 'What are Friendly Bacteria?'

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Bacteria are just Tiny Pokémon!

Growing up, I was the right age to get hooked on Pokémon when it started getting crazy popular. I played the game boy games to death, I still have a huge box full of cards, and would get up early so I could watch the cartoon before school. That was years ago, but I'm still doing the same stuff: reading about special creatures, collecting them and sometimes forcing them to evolve. No, I'm not still a rabid Pokémon fan (although I do love a bit of Pokken tournament, and will be jumping on Pokémon Go as soon as I can), I'm just a microbiologist!

My creatures are bacteria, and I collect them in the minus eighty freezer. They have 'types', like the ice type (psychrophiles), fire type (thermophiles) and pretty much everything else too! I work with endophytes, bacteria that live in plants, so I guess that makes me a grass type trainer?

The more I think about it, the more it fits! Bacteria can produce electricity, can be magnetic, swim, fly and produce toxins. They fight, too; their 'moves' are antibiotics they produce to attack each other with. They constantly change, adapt and evolve. Each species has many different strains, all with different 'stats', just like different individual Pokémon.

And I get to gather them, study them, and use them for great things like helping plants grow! Does that make me a Pokémon trainer? I certainly hope so! That would look sweet on my C.V....

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Video: Trip to the zoo! Mini documentary, sort of

I love animals. All of them. Every single one. And because of this, I've always absolutely adored going to the zoo! I know some zoos get a bad rep but I find the best ones are those that are more animal focused than visitor focused; looking after the animals is the only goal, both at a 'personal' level within the zoo and in the wider global population via breeding programs and stuff like that. There's a small zoo near Aberystwyth that takes in rescued animals, and it's one of my favourite places to go!

They have a huge range of animals from marmosets to lions, all sorts of fun talks and feeds, and it's just a lovely little zoo. (Link to their website!) A few weeks ago I took a trip there with some friends, and took my camera. Here's the resulting video:

I tried to say interesting animal facts so it's not just pictures of cute animals, but there are plenty of those if that's what you're after! A baby marmoset, emu chicks, coati pups and a joey still in the pouch all feature! Lots of awesome fully grown animals too though.

The music on the bits where either the audio was weird or I wasn't really saying anything seems to be slightly out of sync with what I wanted it to be doing, but it's not bad!

I hope you enjoy it! I've got a few more fun day-trip videos that need editing, and I'm nearly ready to start doing science videos, so if you like what I'm doing feel free to subscribe!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Sickbed Blogging

I'm still ill. Blegh. So today I'm blogging from my sickbed!
As I look around my room, I can see that my bedroom functions as a decent metaphore for how I'm finding life as a PhD student!
That might be helped by the strong flu meds, but I'm going to roll with it anyway.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

What do honeybees, chorizo, and silage have in common?

If you said 'Friendly Bacteria?', you're right! Insects, tasty sausage and fermented grass are all home to Lactic Acid Bacteria, a group of bacteria that, well, produce Lactic Acid.
So what are they, and what can they do for us?