Meet Early Career Microbiologist of the Year poster finalist: Emmet Campbell

Posted on June 28, 2024   by Microbiology Society

This year the Microbiology Society is awarding two Early Career Microbiologist of the Year prizes. The prizes recognise excellence in science communication by a member who is an undergraduate, postgraduate student or within five years of appointment to their first position.

Each of the finalists, who were either speakers or poster presenters, were selected at Annual Conference 2024 to present their research in the poster or speaker final.  In the lead up to the poster  final, taking place on 9 July 2024 during the Early Career Summer Conference, we speak to poster finalist Emmet Campbell, from Queen's University Belfast, UK.

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© Emmet Campbell

What are your current research interests? 

My PhD is focused on in silico methods for improving phage therapies, but I’m interested in all aspects of microbiology. It can be interesting to find parallels between two completely different areas and some of the biggest solutions for my work have come from non-biology-related papers. At the minute my project is moving into network biology territory, and it’s fun having to figure out how to code a maths problem while thinking about how it’s affecting the actual underlying biology.

What inspired you to go into this field of work?

I found antimicrobial resistance an interesting topic during my undergrad, but we didn’t get to cover a lot about bacteriophages. From what we did learn, I found their biology really fascinating and how much potential they had for tackling the AMR crisis. It also seemed like an area that had a lot left to be understood and would be exciting to move into. I’m glad I picked my project because it’s such a fast-moving field and new things are being discovered all the time.

How did you feel finding out you are an Early Career Microbiologist of the Year?

Ecstatic! I was very honoured to have my poster picked out given the calibre of research at Annual Conference. It’s easy to get stuck in your head about methods or results not turning out how you want, so something like this is a great confidence boost to keep going. 

What do you love most about your job?

Due to how niche research tends to be, nobody can or should know everything, and it creates a good culture of always having something new to both contribute to and learn from a discussion.

Specifically, as a bioinformatician, I like the problem-solving aspect of a difficult coding situation. It can be frustrating when it doesn’t work but very satisfying when it does.

How do Society events, such as Annual Conference, promote your professional development?

Having the chance to present your work in poster or talk format can help you develop key skills in academia, but the small interactions at these events contribute just as much. Meeting so many people and explaining your research can really refine your ‘elevator pitch’ and science communication. Not to mention it’s one of the best ways to meet potential collaborators or even employers. It’s easy to get caught in your own bubble while working and being exposed to different methods or opinions can really broaden your perspectives.

You can find and follow Emmet on X (formerly known as Twitter):  @the_phagemage