Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Biomed graduate publishes expert review

Plymouth has an ever-increasing reputation in mucosal immunity, particularly that associated with probiotic bacteria and how this understanding can be harnessed in the control of the body’s defence mechanisms to pathogen infection. Investigations in both teleost fish (school of biological sciences) and human cell models (SoBHCS) have helped us gain a clearer understanding of the immune-regulatory effects of probiotic supplementation.

Amy Llewellyn, one of our graduates of biomedical science (pictured left), has just published her research focussing on probiotic modulation of immune cell signalling events in an international, peer-reviewed journal. In this account, Amy recounts her experience of the writing and publication processes and what this means to her future career development:

"I came to write this review with Dr Andrew Foey during my final year of Biomedical Science at Plymouth University in 2015. It was in fact Andy who inspired my passion for Immunology with his weird and wonderful immunology analogies throughout my studies at university. We discovered our shared interests during an exam revision session and began writing the review in summer 2015. And today, 23rd of October 2017, the review has been published in the latest edition of Nutrients!

Myself and Andy participated in the writing of this review equally and this involved many drafts, comments and back and forth emails to perfect the content of the review and ensure it encompassed our joint interests and the most current research. I thoroughly enjoyed every step in the process, from the literature review, to the drawing of pretty little cell signalling diagrams! The extensive literature review especially, provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the topic and proved very interesting.

The writing experience has taught me how much time, work and effort goes into writing academic reviews, but the hard work certainly pays off. I have seen a vast improvement in my writing skills and ability to critically analyse the literature. I am now a Research Assistant in an Ear and Respiratory Child Health team at Menzies School of Health Research, in Darwin, Australia and I have been able to expose my immunology interests to my current colleagues in a professional manner. This review may one day contribute to the acceptance of a PhD scholarship, which I hope to gain in the next 1-2 years. Publishing this review has given me the skills and confidence to take on further writing projects in the near future.

This would not have been possible without the outstanding level of expertise provided by Dr Andy Foey and his continued support in my abilities, not only throughout this writing process but throughout my university studies and towards my professional career which I hope to establish here in Australia. I am very proud of this achievement and look forward to one day writing another review!"

Andy adds: "I am also proud of this review and that it has been led by the enthusiasm and drive of one of our best graduates. This publication will have wide-reaching impact to the field of probiotics and immune regulation and I hope will inspire Amy to follow her dreams in pursuing a life-long career in immunology."

Monday, 6 November 2017

Working with A level students

Nuffield Foundation Placements with Feisal Subhan
Every year the Nuffield Foundation organises STEM placements for over 1,100 post-16 students across the UK. They spend several weeks in various university laboratories, industry, research institutes and also small & medium-sized enterprises. In summer 2017, I had two placement students, Eleanor Richards and Georgina Sewart. Eleanor worked on new diagnostic criteria for Sniff nasal inspiratory pressures, while Georgina analysed heart rate variability and autonomic function in triathletes. Both worked tremendously hard during their vacation time. Our regional Nuffield coordinators kindly invited us to a celebration event on 1 November at Exeter, where we were given certificates and all students in Devon & Cornwall presented posters on their work.

Photographs.  Eleanor Richards, Feisal Subhan and Georgina Stewart (L to R) collecting our certificates. Below that is Feisal and Georgina in front of her poster. Bottom is Eleanor’s poster.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Third year project students' work published

Third year project students, recognised as the 'SoBHCS Student Team' have contributed to a new paper in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes. The study suggests that consumption of juice obtained via a commercially available nutrient extractor results in blood glucose levels the same or lower than seen with whole fruit. This unexpected finding offers a possible dietary alternative enabling consumption of normally dietary-restricted fruit juice. You can read more about the work here.

Monday, 16 October 2017

New Scientist Live Event - the interview

In an earlier Blog, I mentioned that one of our lecturers, Tina Joshi, was at the New Scientist Live event ("Ask a Biologist") organised by the Royal Society for Biology. Here is the link to her interview.

Monday, 25 September 2017

New Scientist Live! event

One of our new lecturers, Tina Joshi, will talking at the #askabiologist event at the Royal Society of Biology stand at the New Scientist Live event in London on Saturday 29th September between 10am and 1.30pm. Public at the event will be able to talk to her about her research area and ask "Could Microwaves Save my Life?". She will have props at the table to demonstrate concepts.

Tina's research focuses on the development of a hand held detector able to rapidly detect antibiotic resistant bacteria within infected patients/environment. Antibiotic resistance in microorganisms is a global crisis as we have fewer and fewer ways left to treat dangerous infections. The approach utilises bespoke microwave technology to break open bacteria in five seconds and electrochemistry to detect the bacteria itself.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Welcome party for first years

Yesterday the faculty held its annual welcoming party for new first years in the marquee on the Hoe. Below are a few photos from the evening. The top two show various staff, whom I am sure wish to remain anonymous. The ones below were kindly taken by Matthias Futschik (one of our new lecturers) and show Ansgar Poetsch (also a new lecturer) with some first year undergraduates (my apologies for not recognising them yet).

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Nutrition Society Student Conference

Julia Jaczo -- a Nutrition, Exercise and Health student -- writes about her experience, and that of her colleagues, at a recent Nutrition Society Student Conference.
As part of my second year summer research bursary, I had to the chance to investigate the relationship between dietary intake and chronic disease risk. I used data from the EarlyBird cohort study, examining energy and nutrient intake according to gender, BMI and body fat and related the data to glucose tolerance test values.
After finishing the research, I had the opportunity to attend the Nutrition Society Student Conference in Reading during the first week of September.  Two other students, James Wallis and Rachel Hine, also joined me, alongside our tutors, Dr Gail Rees and Kathy Redfern, to represent the university and present our research findings.
The conference exceeded my expectations every way possible. It was great meeting students from around the world with similar interests and listening to their research findings. As part of the conference, we also had the chance to find out details about emerging and ongoing research in the field of nutrition, such as different dietary fats and their effects on risk of heart disease; changes in the immune system during aging and how diet can modulate the gut microbiome and effect health.
The conference also focused on providing support for future graduates and registered nutritionists. We had talks on how to prepare for a public speech, how to build our CVs and prepare for job interviews and we also heard useful tips of how to work freelance.
Overall, it was a great experience attending the conference and I am grateful for the university for making it possible for us. I have made some new connections with people I would have never met otherwise and gathered lots of useful information both regarding future careers and nutrition science.
Rachel commented:
“The student conference was a great opportunity to present my research, network with other students and professionals and learn more about career possibilities. Completing the summer studentship has allowed me to gain confidence and new skills in research and I look forward to attending more Nutrition Society events in the future.”
James also agreed:
“Undertaking the vacation research scholarship has improved many skills such as conducting primary research, analytical skills and communication skills. Not only this, but being able to present our projects at the Nutrition Society conference was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to network and talk to people at different levels of their career.”

Below:  Julia (right) with Rachel Hine and James Wallis