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Saturday, 14 May 2016

What a time to be alive... and a Microbiologist

I am so excited to be a microbiologist; it is so fascinating, and there's so much to find out and so many new things to discover that I could spend my entire life in the lab and not take a chunk out of the unexplored world of bacteria.
I studied microbiology for four years at university, including a year in an industrial lab, and now I'm a fair way through the first year of my PhD, but my enthusiasm for the field is only getting stronger. The fantastic thing is, that enthusiasm is getting more and more prevalent in society.
From regular people hearing more about their gut microbiome, being aware of things to do to avoid food poisoning and knowing that there are some friendly bacteria out there, right the way up to the most powerful people in the world.
Yesterday (Friday the 13th of May) the White House announced a new microbiology initiative focusing on exploring microbiomes! There's a big pot of money that comes with it too, but (for me at least) the best thing about it is that it shows just how seriously this research is being taken. The more awareness and interest into this field, the faster we will achieve big leaps forward in knowledge. And because Science is collaborative, an increase in scientific interest in one place will spread like wildfire (or a disease I guess would be more fitting) throughout the world.

More scientists will be fantastic, but there's a limit to what even a million scientists can do if they're locked in a bare office, which is why the money is great too; science is pretty pricey! Loads of specialist equipment, labs full of constantly-running electrical equipment, all the various consumables like petri dishes and blue roll, it all adds up. Money, or rather lack of it, is a big leash tied around the neck of the scientific community, so the injection of 500million dollars or whatever it was will go a long way too! Not that research is a big money sink, it generates a whole lot more than it consumes, both in terms of commercial technologies and in terms of benefits to society and the individual.

I'm so optimistic about the future of microbiology, especially now. If yesterday ignites a spark of interest, I really hope it will catch light and spread globally (especially as we microbiologists spray pretty much everything with ethanol), brightening up the world as we make advancement after advancement, saving lives, creating new technologies and making this planet a better place for everyone! Including the bacteria!

Plus then I'll be able to say 'I was into microbiology before it was cool'...

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