Biology is becoming increasingly quantitative – an exciting development to which I hope to contribute. I obtained my BSc in Molecular Genetics from the University of Edinburgh and my MSc in Statistics from the University of Glasgow. I was interested in my PhD project because it would allow me to train at the interface of my favourite aspects of microbiology and statistics: evolutionary theory, experimental evolution, experimental design and data analysis. At the same time, I could contribute to the important investigation into the use of phages as a treatment for bacterial infections.
Bacteria and their viruses, known as phages, adapt to one another. To use phages as antimicrobials, for example in the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF), it is important to characterise these adaptations. I am measuring the effect of changes in the spatial environment on the adaptations that bacteria and phages undergo. For example, spatial refuges, in which bacteria are protected from phages, may alter the types of adaptations that are observed. In addition, the nutrients that I supply mimic the CF lung environment, making my work relevant to the development of CF medication. As part of my project, I will be using microfluidics to make specific changes to the spatial environment and genomics to characterise the adaptations that bacteria and phages undergo. Overall, I hope to contribute to the characterisation of the dynamics of bacteria and phages in complex environments, helping to broaden our understanding of microbial evolution and the use of phages as medication.