Oonagh Bodin - Interview with Monash PhD Sarah LarcombeTodays mini interview is with Sarah Larcombe! Sarah is currently in the final year of her PhD at Monash University where she researches bacterial associated dysbiosis of the gut (HOORAY!!). Sarah was also one of our communication ambassadors last year!
What are you currently researching in your PhD?
I’m studying a variety of bacteria that cause gut infections related to dysbiosis. My project uses mouse infection models and a combination of microbiology and cell biology techniques that allow us to track disease progression in the mice, and understand how these bacteria cause gut disease.
What drew you to this area of research?
I was originally interested in bacterial pathogenesis and the role of toxins, and I wanted to join the Lyras lab because they were studying these things in a really interesting group of bacteria (the clostridia). In the Lyras lab, I first studied toxin regulation using molecular microbiology techniques and in vitro assays, but soon realised the importance and usefulness of in vivo models. I became more interested in host-pathogen interactions, which led me to my PhD project. Now I get to work on a multi-disciplinary project, and have been able to learn a lot of techniques outside of microbiology, and collaborate with world-class researchers in other areas of medical science.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'm looking forward to leaving PhD student life behind and becoming a real-life adult. I'm not sure where I'll end up, because I'm interested in too many things to make a decision!
What advice would you give PhDs who are just starting out or those who are wishing to start one soon?
Start your paper plans early. Knowing what data you’ll need to publish your story will help so much in planning your experiments, and motivate you to do them!
Why microbiology? Why science?
I started off in a business degree, but I wasn’t enjoying it and I loved biology in highschool so I thought I’d give science a go! I did a Biotechnology Diploma at TAFE and discovered recombinant DNA technology and loved it. When I got to uni I was certain I'd major in genetics, but after learning about all the awesome ways these technologies were being applied to study bacteria, I decided to major in molecular microbiology.
We live in a fascinating world, and working in science is awesome because if you're lucky, you might get to find something out about the world that nobody else knows yet.