SfAM Summer Student Placement Scholarship: exploring the world of research

Taylor Wellfare Reed looks back at their time as an SfAM Summer Student at the University of Sheffield.

The before

I eagerly reached out to Dr. Fenton at the beginning of my second year of my Microbiology degree with the intention of exploring the world of research as a possible career option following university. His work interested me since it involved certain applications of microbiology that I had learnt about through my course and enthusiastically wanted to see how it worked in reality. The application process itself taught me a lot about how they are structures and what is desired, which was quite eye-opening for me.

The during

From the offset, I was involved in cutting-edge research in antibiotic resistance in the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. I found myself dealing with interesting transposon-sequencing research data, which yielded a set of genes related to bacterial tolerance to ampicillin antibiotics. I would then directly knockout a series of these genes individually and observe their phenotype and link it to resistance! I was challenged each and every day and got more comfortable in a lab atmosphere following a very interrupted year at university.  I found it very pleasing and exciting to be in a position to carry out an extended project from the beginning of the research question to gaining the results at the end. It is worth nothing that initially, I found that the time-management aspect of the research to be quite difficult – something I did not expect – but found myself growing into the routine of a work day over time.

The after

From the application process to the preparation of my research results this has been a very informative experience for me. I have grown to feel more confident in my lab and presenting skills, which I will carry with me onto my 3rd year and onto (hopefully) a PhD. This process has also led me onto wanting to pursue a career in academia and research, which I was initially sceptical about. I am now excitedly looking forward to beginning my third-year project! Lastly, I would like to thank SfAM for funding this summer project and giving me the opportunity to have this summer experience.


Taylor Wellfare Reid

University of Sheffield