Oonagh Bodin - Interview with PhD Lucie Semenec

Posted by on 24 August 2016 | Comments

Today i'm talking with Lucie Semenec, a PhD research at La Trobe University, Bundoora in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology laboratory. Lucie travelled to Australia from Vancouver, Canada to undertake her PhD in Associate Professor Ashley Franks lab and is currently in the third year of her PhD!

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What are you currently researching in your PhD?

I am looking into the syntrophic and competitive interactions between electric bacteria in order to understand how to enhance their syntrophic interactions in microbial fuel cell (MFC) technologies. Techniques that I am currently using are fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH), quantitative PCR (qPCR), reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR), proteomics, next-generation sequencing and anaerobic culturing.

What drew you to this area of research?

When I started looking for what to study for my PhD, I knew that I had a specific interest in using microbes to clean up wastes in the environment while using the released energy as a renewable and sustainable source of energy. This interest led me directly towards the existing field of microbial fuel cells and electromicrobiology.

What interests you most?

I am most interested in how bacteria interact with one another in different environments and finding interesting applications from this interaction.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself working to complete a postdoc and eventually applying for academic investigator positions.

What advice would you give PhDs who are just starting out or those who are wishing to start one soon?

My advice would be to plan your project very carefully before starting experiments so that you can avoid wasting time in advance. Also, be prepared to work hard, ask a lot of questions, and teach yourself many things!

Why microbiology? Why science?

Ever since my first microbiology class in undergraduate studies, I knew that I really enjoyed learning about the large impacts such tiny microscopic living things can have on the world. I also worked in a few microbiology labs for work-study placements and always really enjoyed them. Science in general is appealing because you never stop learning about how the world works.

Thanks Lucie! You'll find Lucie tweeting @LucieSemenec. To find out what is happening in the Franks lab, learn about their other projects, and see their recent list of publications, visit the Applied and Environmental microbiology laboratory webpage HERE.

With her passion for all things environmental Lucie (with the help of Jen Wood) has also started up a La Trobe Litter Busters group. This group of amazing litter fighting heroes take time out of their busy schedules once monthly to tidy up the surrounds of the La Trobe University Bundoora campus. You can follow their progress on their webpage HERE.

Keep up the amazing hard work Lucie!