Thursday, 17 March 2016

JAMS Turns Five

Yesterday was the JAMS (Joint Academic Microbiology Seminars) Annual Symposium and Dinner at the Australian Museum. This represents the fifth birthday of JAMS, not bad for an idea that originated in a pub discussion with Federico Lauro, Mike Manefield, Andy Holmes and myself. JAMS also had a record turnout with 122 attendees.
Once again there was an excellent array of speakers in the afternoon session. Gene Tyson from the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics gave a fantastic talk on novel methanogens (methane-producing bacteria) in diverse environments including melting permafrost in Scandinavia and Australian coal deposits. John Zehr from the University of California at Santa Cruz gave a fascinating presentation on identifying novel nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria in the ocean that live in symbiosis with eukaryotic plankton. I very much enjoyed Mark Schembri's talk analyzing the reasons for the global success of the urinary tract pathogen E. coli ST131.

I was unable to attend the dinner this year as I had carer duties at home, but congratulations are due to Hasinika Ariyatne in my group who won the prize for Best Poster.

Not those sort of JAMS

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Gavin Thomas visit

We're currently hosting Dr Gavin Thomas from the University of York, who is out here for a sabbatical visit for a few weeks. Gavin and I first crossed paths back in 2000, when I was a new faculty member at TIGR, and he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. Gavin invited me over to give a seminar and I stayed for a few days and was shown round the local tourist-y spots, I remember visiting swamps and historic houses.

Gavin and I have shared a long term interest in transporters- proteins that move nutrients, ions, toxic compounds, etc into or out of cells; and both of us have been using a mixture of computational and wet lab approaches to characterize novel types of transporters. While he is here we are collaborating on refining computational approaches for identifying the substrates of transporters.

Gavin from his University of York web page