Meet the Young Microbiologist of the Year Finalists: Paula Seoane
Posted on August 27, 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: Paula Seoane
Current position: PhD student at the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, University of Birmingham
Title of talk: Exploring the effects of viral exposure on Cryptococcus neoformans infection
Research interests: I am interested in studying host–pathogen interactions. In particular, I am fascinated by the ways pathogens evade the host's immune response to establish a successful infection. I previously worked on how parasites avoid triggering the complement system and now I study how fungi escape from macrophages!
Theme of talk: My talk focuses on the interaction between the opportunistic fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans and one of our body's defender cells; the macrophage. Macrophages are one of our first lines of defense, engulfing pathogens and rapidly clearing infection. However, Cryptococcus has learnt how to live within macrophages and even uses them to its advantage; as a way to hide from the immune system and travel within the body. Cryptococcus affects mainly HIV patients, hence my work has tried to look at the interaction of macrophages and Cryptococcus in the context of a viral infection.
If I wasn't a microbiologist, I would be... a writer. I love reading in my spare time, especially fantasy and science fiction. I like the idea of imagining different worlds and communities, and have also become very attached to well-written characters!