Meet the Young Microbiologist of the Year Finalists: Davis Laundon
Posted on August 16, 2019 by Microbiology Society
The Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year Prize is awarded by the Society each year. The prize recognises and rewards excellence in science communication by a Microbiology Society member who is a postgraduate student or postdoctoral researcher, having gained their PhD in the last two years. Two finalists are shortlisted from each of the Society’s Divisions based on a presentation given at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference or Irish Division meetings. The nine young scientists on this shortlist will give a 15-minute presentation at the Microbiology Society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 12 September. In the run up to the AGM, we will be getting to know the finalists.
Eukaryotic Division Finalist: Davis Laundon
Current position: PhD Student, the Marine Biological Association of the UK (University of East Anglia)
Title of talk: Shining new lights on chytrid cell biology: Quantitative live cell imaging of rhizoid development in an early-diverging fungus
Research interests: Generally, I am interested in how marine protists and early-diverging fungi work and develop at a subcellular level. This involves working with non-conventional model microorganisms, 3D optical and electron microscopy and image analysis tools to reconstruct how these cells are put together and respond to environmental stimuli.
Theme of talk: Fungi are major components of the Earth’s biosphere and sustain vital ecosystem processes, such as the breakdown of tough organic matter. Most studies into the cell biology of fungi have focused on so-called ‘higher fungi’ (mushrooms, yeasts, molds, etc). Filamentous, or ‘higher,’ fungi feed by way of polarized ‘hyphae’, which allow them to explore and colonize novel food sources. I have investigated the cell biology of a group of relatively poorly understood ‘chytrid’ fungi and show for the first time that their cell growth shows striking similarities to the development of ‘higher’ fungal hyphae.
If I wasn't a microbiologist, I would be... I really enjoy the image analysis side of my research, so I might have liked to go into the science of computer vision.