Dr Kevin Kavanagh, Senior Lecturer at Maynooth University, received a Harry Smith Vacation Studentship to host student Gerard Sheehan for a research project over the summer in 2015. Gerard was involved in a project to characterise the distribution of viruses in honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations in Ireland, and considered the importance of several factors including disease, climate and human activity on the health of Apis mellifera colonies via many techniques.
Speaking of the research experience, Gerard said, "At the start of the project I found myself questioning every step I took but by the end it made sense and flowed naturally."
Gerard was able to collect data during his project that will be used as part of a European study on Apis mellifera populations, and was able to present a poster at the annual conference of Irish beekeepers in July, attracting a lot of interest in his work.
Kevin said, "Gerard made a great contribution to this project and the results he generated have contributed to national and EU databases. He acquired a wide range of techniques and the project has confirmed his interest in pursuing a PhD after graduation. It has made a major contribution to Gerard's career and helped the Irish beekeeping community acquire knowledge of bee viruses in Ireland."
Dr Kerstin Williams, Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, received a Harry Smith Vacation Studentship to host student Andreea Radulescu for a research project over the summer in 2015. Andreea was involved in a project using a random transposon mutagenesis approach to identify genes involved in asparagine metabolism in mycobacteria.
Tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is responsible for 1.5 million deaths a year worldwide and new treatments are urgently needed. In order to be a successful pathogen, the TB bacillus has to utilise host nitrogen sources, such as asparagine, for survival. Therefore, identifying novel genes involved in asparagine metabolism might provide us with novel drug targets.
Speaking of the research experience, Andreea said, "I greatly benefited from professional training in the lab, and I gained a strong insight into working independently on a microbiology research project. Not only did I improve specific techniques in the lab, but I improved my organisational and time management skills.”
Kerstin said, "Andreea adapted well and made a great contribution to this project, identifying a novel asparagine transporter in mycobacteria. This protein is currently under further investigation and could lead to a future publication. Andreea acquired a wide range of skills…which will help her enormously in her industrial placement this year. This studentship has also re-confirmed her desire to study for a PhD after graduation.”
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