Coccus Pocus 2019: An exciting scary story competition about biofilms and antimicrobial resistance

Posted on February 27, 2020   by Dr Georgios Efthimiou

Rising antibiotic resistance by pathogenic micro-organisms is a major health concern, as it’s leading to a huge rise in untreatable, life-threatening infections, especially in hospital environments. In addition, these pathogens can also create biofilms, which gives them further protection against antibiotics, detergents and our immune systems.

In October 2019, the Department of Biomedical and Forensic Sciences at the University of Hull launched an exciting scary story competition, Coccus Pocus 2019!

The contestants were encouraged to write a short horror sci-fi story between 500 and 2,000 words, including antimicrobial resistance and microbial biofilms.

The story evaluation committee, which was composed of eight academics and researchers from the University of Hull and other universities, ranked the stories according to the intrigue of their plot, use of language, character description and scientific soundness. The prizes were awarded on 1 November, during a ceremony that was followed by a short reception with nibbles and soft drinks.

The first prize (a £50 Amazon gift voucher) was awarded to Ms Paisleigh Smythe (Year 2 Biomed undergraduate, University of Hull) for her brilliant story Resistance Remains, where an anthropological expedition to Peru is hit by a killer bug.

Mr Diego Morello from Heriot-Watt University received the second prize (a £30 voucher) for his dark story Forgotten, where a lonely explorer comes across a gooey green lake full of crawling creatures.

Finally, Mr Luke Bridges (Year 2 Biomed undergraduate, University of Hull) was given third prize (a £20 voucher) for his story Will You Walk Into My Parlour?, where a team of scientists and soldiers sent to examine a disease outbreak are attacked by deformed virus-infected creatures.

The competition was kindly supported by the National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC).

The organisers hope that the competition will be held again and again around the country, aiming to increase public awareness about the important problem of antimicrobial resistance and biofilms and boost the enthusiasm of young people about the fascinating field of microbiology.

If you would like to find out more about the competition, Dr Georgios Efthimiou will be presenting a poster at the ‘Teaching microbiology in higher education session’ on the 31 March at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2020 in Edinburgh.

Georgios has also written about Coccus pocus on The National Biofilms Innovation Centre website