Biomedical MRes Vikas Nariapara reports back on the fascinating insights and intriguing research showcased at the Applied Microbiology International ECS Research symposium at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

Applied Microbiology International held the Letters in Applied Microbiology ECS Research Symposium for early career scientists on May 15, 2024. For the first time, the symposium was held at the University of the West of England in Bristol.


The symposium focuses on scientists that are still early on in their careers, supporting them with opportunities such as talks, poster displays and a chance to meet industrial representatives. These events can be crucial to early career scientists, allowing them to build a repertoire of skills and gain a foothold in the ever-growing field that is Microbiology.

Keynote speech

The symposium opened with a keynote speech by Dr. Alexander Rickard from the University of Michigan. The talk was entitled “A Microbiologist’s Career: From the UK to The USA and the Research Adventure Along the Way”, in which Dr Rickard gave a short synopsis of his journey as a researcher - starting in the University of Birmingham for his BSc, to his eventual migration to the USA for employment at the National Institute of Health just outside of Washington DC and leading to his current role as Assistant Professor at University of Michigan.


In the speech he spoke about the importance of finding your feet through taking opportunities, using the time during your Masters to find yourself a subject you enjoy, so that by the time you reach your PhD you can delve into an area of interest whilst taking opportunities such as presentations and posters. He noted that working at the National Institute of Health was a highlight and was worth the move to the USA.

Later, he thanked AMI for presenting him the young lecturers award early in his career, remarking that it allowed him to start supporting undergraduate students. Finally, Dr. Rickard finished off by expressing his enjoyment in remaining an associate professor, allowing him to maintain lab time with students and work closely with them.

Early careers scientists presentations

Following the keynote speech came a series of 15 minute presentations by early careers scientists from around the world. The work presented had a great variety, from ‘Artisanal Colonial Cheese as a Source of Potentially Probiotic Lactic Acid Bacteria in South Brazil’ to ‘Understanding the efficacy of antimicrobial aerosols through the development of an airborne bacteriophage-based model’.


Katie Silver’s presentation on ‘Development of Sustainable, Antimicrobial Essential Oil Microcapsules for the Use Within Textiles’

The breadth of biology covered ensured everyone in the room learned something new. Other talks such as ‘Development of Sustainable, Antimicrobial Essential Oil Microcapsules for the Use Within Textiles’ revealed the thought put into creating a more sustainable approach to tackling current issues.

Picture: Katie Silver’s presentation on ‘Development of Sustainable, Antimicrobial Essential Oil Microcapsules for the Use Within Textiles’

Poster session and networking

Posters ranging from undergraduate to post-doctorate were on display at the event - a great opportunity for scientists who are early on in their research to showcase their work. In addition, it allowed scientists to network with others working in similar areas.


Presnting her poster ‘Investigating the activity of antimicrobial peptides of Myxobacteria against Neisseria gonorrhoea’, Lily Hannan, a second year student at Cardiff University, shared some interesting work being undertaken on multidrug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In this work antimicrobial peptides produced from myxobacteria were exposed to N. gonorrhoeae pre and post in silico modification, with post modification resulting in lower dosing needed for bactericidal action.


Julidé Mayer and Nicola Lena

Meanwhile, Julidé Mayer and Nicola Lena, second and third year students at the University of the West of England presented ‘The Impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the Availability of Essential Medicines for Non-Communicable Diseases in the Sub-Saharan Africa’. Their poster concluded their findings from an ongoing systemic review, highlighting how some low income African countries were affected by COVID-19, causing changes in deaths associated with non-communicable diseases.

The winning poster

Top prize went to ‘The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Development of Acinetobacter baumannii Biofilms’ by Jisa Salim, a Masters in Research student at the University of the West of England who found that glucose is an important factor in understanding biofilm formation in Acinetobacter baumannii, proving that glucose increases biofilm formation in clinical isolates of A.baumannii.


Jisa Salim

When asked how she felt following the award, Jisa said: “It felt amazing to be recognised for the work that I’ve been doing. The late nights and long days in the lab were absolutely worth it. It means a lot as an early career scientist. Thank you AMI!”

Networking with exhibitors

Alongside the posters were representatives from many exhibitors, including the UK health and security agency culture collections (UKHSA), Medical Wire and Equipment, Integra and the Galleria mellonlella Research Centre.

Having these companies present gave scientists the chance to forge new networks and for some catalysed the beginning of new research opportunities. For others, it was a glimpse into what employment in these sectors could be.


A talk by Alexander Dickinson from the UKHSA culture collections revealed what they do, how he attained his role and what skills are desirable for work in the UKHSA.

The Galleria mellonlella Research Centre from Exeter took a stall at the conference to spread knowledge of working with the Galleria mellonlella larva, an organism that has increasing interest as an in vivo model for testing pathogenicity, virulence factor and efficacy of antimicrobial drugs.

Girl Bossing Imposter Syndrome

Following the poster presentations, Dr. Órla Meadhbh Murray presented a talk on imposter syndrome in science.

In the talk, Dr Murray explained how through her research she found many students from varying backgrounds all experienced imposter syndrome in some form throughout their undergraduate course. In this study she also found that the largest portion of students with imposter syndrome came from biological sciences.

Dr Murray also emphasized that ‘overcoming’ imposter syndrome is a myth, that they are feelings that are situated and rational. Nor is the feeling evenly distributed amongst people. Her advice to help ease these feelings was to join groups and societies that have similar people to yourself, find supportive friendship groups and use these to help manage the feelings.

Synthetic yeast genome

Dr. Ben Blount’s talk focused on the production of a synthetic yeast genome, explaining why this task was undertaken, how long it lasted and what some of the issues along the way were. It explained how the creation of a synthetic genome would allow for a greater variety of genetic differences to be predicted, creating a novel method to facilitate synthetic biology and engineering research in eukaryotes.

The project spanned 10 years and included universities around the world, and has now begun publishing the work, such as ‘Synthetic yeast chromosome XI design provides a testbed for the study of extrachromosomal circular DNA dynamics’ which has contributed to a greater understanding of non-coding DNA elements.


The Early Careers Symposium for scientists was a huge success, with a large turnout and positive feedback from students who attended. The symposium provided essential opportunities for students and early career scientists to display their work, network, get inspired and engage with scientists they previously were unaware of.

Vikas is a HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist, who is currently undertaking a Masters in Research at the University of the West of England, investigating the encapsulation of antibiotics using microfluidics to form liposomes. Vikas is interested in tackling AMR through novel methods and is currently working at NHS Blood and Transplant.