I am back doing my PhD research today in my office… and totally missing the FUN and total MADNESS of the past two weeks with all of you guys doing the I’m A Scientist – Get me out of here! event. I don’t think I’ve ever answered so many questions about pink feathers in my life – not to mention ones about stinky flamingo bums…(but more about these later).
I was totally amazed by you guys… by your enthusiasm, by your excitement, and most of all, by the amazing questions that you asked. The chats were probably my favorite bit – 30 minutes of non-stop typing to answer your questions. I loved each and every one of them, and only wish that the chats could have gone on a bit longer…even if my brain was totally fried by the end of 30 minutes!
So like I said, now I’m back to doing my research. At the moment, I’m analysing some of the samples I took from the flamingo bums to try and figure out which bacteria are in them – bacteria just LOVE living in bottoms – so although its a bit gross, its actually quite useful and important to study.
By knowing which bacteria are in their bums, I can determine which bacteria are in the environments where they live, since flamingos eat things from the water. In specific, I’m looking for bacteria that are ‘antibiotic resistant’. This means that antibiotics (like we sometimes take when we’re sick or have an infection) don’t work to kill these bacteria.
Aquatic environments where the flamingos live can serve as reservoirs (stores) of these bacteria, which end up there in lots of interesting ways (though that’s a whole other story!). Of course, this can be a HUGE problem if humans get these kinds of bacteria – because if antibiotics don’t work to kill the bacteria, people don’t get better from illnesses and sicknesses.
Now that I’ve won this competition, I’m looking forward to starting a project that’s a bit outside of my PhD research. My plan is to make a website at which students like you post about the kinds of science that you’re interested in, or that you think is important or even just a bit funny.
I think that too many science websites are written by boring, old people (although there are plenty written by fun people too!). So I wanted to give you guys, as students, a chance to be in charge. I’ll be working to select a few classes from schools in Ireland, and give each one some tools to make this website a reality; a camera for taking photos, a voice recorder for doing interviews, and also hopefully an in-person session on how to write about science and take cool science photos.
I can’t wait to get started with this, and I’m so thankful that you have given me a chance to do it!!