2017 Summer School Blog
The Microbes & Me - By Daniel Olatokun
To those interested in pursuing a career in Pharmacy, Medicine, Biological/Biomedical Sciences or in any other related course, I would strongly recommend the Institute of Microbiology and Infection (IMI) Summer School at the University of Birmingham. In the past, whenever I heard the words bacteria or fungus I shuddered. However, from the 24th July- 28th July 2017, I got to “meet the microbes” in a swanky lab coat and I even tried to use fluorescent bacteria to spell out my school’s initials!
The week started with an ice-breaker, a tour of the IMI, and a talk on the history and relevance of microbial life. Then came the hands-on aspect: practicals, and lots of them. These included interesting themes, which encouraged the application of my biological knowledge and independence through lab work.
Our first practical included taking swabs from everyday objects such as shoes, laptops, etc. and spreading these onto various types of agar plate. My plates produced interesting results: including that the inside of one pair of my shoes had more bacteria and fungus than on the outside: I promptly threw the shoes in the bin, but you can see what was growing below. On the left and in the centre, you’ll also see how much bacteria and fungus may be on your own TV remote...
Throughout the course of the week our practicals became more diverse and challenging, including but not limited to; using microscopes to transfer microscopic worms onto special agar plates to suppress certain genes, and observing antibiotic resistance being passed between bacteria. My favourite practicals of the week came on the last two days, where my partner and I used restriction enzymes to cut up bacterial plasmids (extra bits of DNA) to produce the agarose gel electrophoresis analysis.
These practicals were supplemented by talks from leading researchers and academics on antibiotic resistance and unusual microbes. Our final talk from Dr Klaus Fütterer even inspired me to pursue a career in biology, instead of just a degree in the subject, as I’ve found a new interest in life at its smallest and most basic form.
I would like to thank Dr Rebecca Hall, Dr Jack Bryant and the staff at Birmingham IMI for developing my enthusiasm for microbes. I also encourage all potential Life-Science students to apply for this rewarding, and free, Summer School.
Please note that applications for IMI Summer School 2017 are now closed.