HLS Summer School

On 27th June 2017 the School of Life Sciences took part in the Health and Life Sciences Summer School, organised by Widening Participation and Outreach.

HLS Summer School1

Each summer the Widening Participation and Outreach team organises faculty-based residential events for local Year 10 students. These three day events give young people the chance to stay overnight in university accommodation, experience student life and work with staff and students from different subject disciplines.

Here in the School of Life Sciences we ran a session for 35 of the visiting year 10 students. Tom price, Tom Butts, Gwen Cowley and myself organised a series of short activities: extracting DNA from fruit, evolution and vertebrate phylogeny and observing fruit fly behaviour to answer the question “do drunk fruit flies have sex more often?”

Our session in the Summer School received a lot of very positive feedback from participants.

“Really enjoyable and opened up new career choices for me in the future”

“Really enjoyed all the activities as they were interesting especially liked the one about brains”

“The fly sex activity was fun because it showed their behaviour”

“Very interesting with very lovely and friendly people”

 Thanks to everyone who ran sessions or helped out on the day, a good afternoon was had by all!

Macarons and posters at 13th European Conference on Fungal Genetics

Guest post by Gwen Cowley, PhD student in Functional and Comparative Genomics at the Institute of Integrative Biology 

gwen parisI recently had the opportunity to attend the 13th European Conference on Fungal Genetics (ECFG) in Paris, France.  This amazing opportunity was thanks to the Michael Pugh Thomas Endowment fund and support from the Genomes to Systems (G2S) Research Theme in my Institute.

This year, ECFG13 was aimed at presenting recent advances in fungal genetics and molecular biology, including cellular biology, evolutionary genomics, biotic interactions, systems and synthetic biology, ecogenomics and biotechnology. As an interdisciplinary forum for scientists, from both the academic and industry fields, its aim was to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends and issues in the field of fungal genetics and molecular biology and over 800 people attended.

As such, the conference provided a fantastic opportunity to showcase our recent developments using PacBio RNA sequencing, as applied to the filamentous fungi, Myceliapthora thermophila. To date, PacBio sequencing has not been applied to filamentous fungi and the sequencing protocols are still widely under development.  We are currently preparing a publication on the applicability of PacBio sequencing for improving genome annotations and applying this to an industry-relevant fungal strain.  ECGF was a great opportunity to showcase our initial results. This work benefits both the academic and industrial field of fungal research, of which both groups of researchers were in attendance at this conference.

During my time in Paris, I had the chance to present a poster on the technical analysis of PacBio RNA sequencing. ECFG was a brilliant platform for the dissemination of our research and techniques to both the academic and industrial fields. Additionally, this research was completed thanks to a Knowledge Exchange Voucher from the Technology Directorate and the University of Liverpool and showcased the services and facilities available within the Centre for Genomic Research.  My poster generated lots of scientific discussion about its advancement for fungal research and sequencing technologies.  As a result, I have made new acquaintances and contacts in the hopes of further collaborations in the future.

macarons and postersFollowing full days of seminars and workshops, my evenings were spent as a tourist in “the most beautiful city in the world” and I was able to indulge in French delicacies. From the panoramic views at the top of the Eifel Tower at sunset, to across the Seine for dinner at traditional French bistros; there is no shortage of things to do in Paris in the spring time.

Audrey Hepburn once said “Paris is always a good idea”, and when paired with fungal genetics, it certainly was!