Meet the Young Microbiologist of the Year Finalists: Gareth Raynes

Posted on August 29, 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.

Irish Division Finalist: Gareth Raynes

Current position: PhD student, Institute of Envirnomental, Agricultural and Rural Sciences, Aberytstwyth University

Title of talk: Worth their salt: coastal plants as a source of host plant salinity-stress reducing endophytic bacteria

Research interests: Currently my research focuses on plant-growth-promoting bacteria, and previously I have worked with bioethanol production by thermophilic bacteria, but in general I’m interested in all aspects of beneficial bacteria whether it be plants, animals, humans, or the environment. I’m especially interested in using cultural approaches for practical applications.

Theme of talk: I’ll be talking about my PhD research, where I’ve been finding bacteria living inside plants growing in salty coastal soils. They’re called endophytes, and live in the plants without causing them harm, and can even be quite beneficial. I’ve been testing the bacteria by putting them into grass plants and watering them with salt water, to see if the bacteria are able to help the plant survive the salty conditions. This may one day be used to improve crop growth in poor soils worldwide, either for food or for energy crops like the giant grass Miscanthus.

If I wasn't a microbiologist, I would... love to make nature documentaries, I love being out in nature and would really enjoy showing the world all the amazing things there are to see! If I could combine the two and make documentaries about beneficial microbes in nature, that’d be perfect!

Gareth's talk will take place at the Microbiology Society AGM on 12 September, at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London. Stay tuned for more finalist profiles in the coming weeks. Already published profiles can be found below: 
Christine Jordan, Irish Division Finalist
Davis Laundon, Eukaryotic Division Finalist
Michaela Conley, Virology Division Finalist
Sarah Worsley, Parkaryotic Division Finalist
Paula Seoane, Eukaryotic Division Finalist