Harry Smith Vacation Studentship recipients

Discover how being awarded a Harry Smith Vacation Studentship Grant has enabled these microbiologists with the opportunity to gain an insight into the world of research, providing early- and mid-career scientists the opportunity to gain supervision experience. 

Harry Smith Vacation Studentship Grant recipients

Evelyn Zuniga-Soto, PhD

University College of Dublin

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2023

"Being awarded The Harry Smith Vacation Studentship significantly increased my confidence in writing successful grant applications. It also enhanced my leadership and mentorship skills. I was very passionate about guiding my student through various stages of the project while providing a supportive learning environment. Additionally, this award allowed me to develop new skills as supervisor, including the administration of resources and budget effectively and on time. For me, it was especially rewarding to observe the student’s progression over time and her commitment towards the different aspects of the project. This is a fantastic initiative and a great opportunity for early career researchers!"
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Blanca Perez-Sepulveda

University of Leeds, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2021

"I have previously supervised several undergraduate and postgraduate students, and written and contributed to numerous grants and vacation studentships, however as a postdoc, I was not able to put my name as the principal investigator. This vacation studentship allowed me to demonstrate my experience, and also grow professionally as I was, for the first time, the one responsible for the completion of the project. I am very grateful that the Microbiology Society is taking this important step of being a platform for supporting early career researchers." 
Image credit: Blanca Perez-Sepulveda

Sona Popat

University of Cambridge, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2020

Sona completed a studentship under the supervision of Dr Helen O'Hare, University of Leicester, where she investigated the conservation of transcriptional regulation of the pknG operon between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and related species.

"As well as learning new technical computational biology skills, my understanding of scientific research and experimental design has improved massively – and this is the main thing I wanted to learn, so I am very happy about this! From designing experiments, selecting the best method to investigate a hypothesis, and knowing when to pursue different lines of investigation, to drawing appropriate conclusions and presenting data effectively, these skills will be important throughout a career in scientific research in any field."
Image credit: Sona Popat

Sarah Cottrell

University of Glasgow, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2020

Sarah completed a studentship under the supervision of Dr George Russell at Moredun Research Institute, where she analysed attenuation of AlHV-1 using genome sequence data.

"Carrying out the project this summer has been an invaluable experience. During the eight weeks of the project I have been faced with many new challenges, learnt from mistakes made, and progressed to a satisfying conclusion which made my contribution to this research feel helpful and valued."
Image credit: Sarah Cottrell

Zac Newland-Smith

University of Leicester, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2020

Final year PhD student helped to supervise undergraduate Sona Popat on a weekly basis during her summer project.

“Helping these students you allows you practice in communicating your project clearly to those who are not as knowledgeable in the area. Furthermore, by going through techniques with students it helps your own understanding and sometimes the students can ask questions, with the benefit of fresh eyes, what are helpful during your project.”
Image credit: Zac Newland-Smith

Rebecca Weiser

Cardiff University, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2020

Rebecca is a postdoctoral researcher who was awarded funds to support undergraduate student Maya Wright, as she investigated bacteriophages as biocontrol agents for Burkholderia plant diseases.

"The Harry Smith Vacation Studentship was a fantastic opportunity for me to gain external funding to pursue my own research ideas. Supervising an undergraduate student was very rewarding and my student made excellent progress over the eight weeks, generating data I hope to use in a future grant application. The experience also taught me how to manage multiple projects at the same time, as I had to balance my own work load with overseeing the summer studentship. Overall, I feel that the award has helped me develop the skills I will need to become an independent researcher."
Image credit: Rebecca Weiser

Maitreyi Shivkumar

De Montfort University, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2019

Maitreyi was awarded a funding to develop her supervision and leadership skills as a postdoctoral researcher. 

"I was fortunate to be granted a Harry Smith Vacation Studentship during my postdoc at University College London, and worked with Mirkomol to investigate the signalling pathways activated during cell-cell spread of HIV-1. This great opportunity helped me develop my skills as a supervisor, both in the lab and in driving scientific research forward. The experience I gained by applying for this grant gave me the confidence to progress in my career as an academic researcher. I have since taken up a lectureship which has allowed me to establish my own lab while continuing to train young scientists."
Image credit: Maitreyi Shivkumar

Thomas Cummins

Cardiff University, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2019

Thomas completed a studentship under the supervision of Dr Daniel Morse where he evaluated the use of probiotic bacteria to selectively modulate Candida albicans virulence in in vitro biofilms.

"This opportunity has given me belief that a career in research is possible. I greatly improved my practical techniques and became much more comfortable presenting and discussing ideas. Being able to first-hand witness many talented scientists in the lab, I have a greater appreciation of the dedication and perseverance required to succeed in science. I was also proud that the work we achieved was presented as a poster in Access Microbiology in lieu of the Conference that year. Thank you, Daniel!"
Image credit: Thomas Cummins 

Leena Kerr

Heriot-Watt University, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2019

Leena was awarded a studentship in 2019 where she supported an undergraduate in her lab to isolate and screenendophytic Streptomyces.

"Being awarded the Harry Smith Vacation Studentship has been great for me. It enabled me to develop my skills in writing successful grant applications, supervising research projects, budgeting and monitoring expenditure and reporting. Having been successful in my grant application and having completed the project with some great results, has enable me to secure a permanent academic position. The preliminary data collected during this project has been taken forward, and I am hopeful we will be able to present our further research in a key scientific conference in the near future, COVID-19 restrictions permitting."
Image credit: Leena Kerr

Mirkomol Mirzarakhimov

University College London, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2019

In 2019, Mirkomol completed a summer project under the supervision of Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar, University College London. During this time, Mirkomol investigated T cell responses driven by synaptic signaling during HIV-1 cell-cell spread.

"I have gained very valuable insight and experience into a career in research. Not only did I gain valuable lab skills, but I also learned how to coordinate and plan experiments. I learned how to think critically about results and plan the next steps accordingly. Although there was frustration with experimental results and procedures, it was ultimately very thrilling and exciting to be able to work on HIV-1 and have the prospect of making new discoveries." 
Image credit: Mirkomol Mirzarakhimov

Liam Rooney

Heriot-Watt University, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2018

In 2018, Liam co-supervised an undergraduate student during their summer project alongside Dr Jana Schniete. At the time, Liam was completing his PhD. 

"Being involved in designing, writing and managing this grant provided an opportunity to develop myself as a researcher and supervise a talented undergraduate student. As a result, the process has made me more confident with grant writing as an ECR and I have devleoped my project management and supervision skills."
Image credit: Liam Rooney

Jana Schniete

Edge Hill University, UK

Harry Smith Student Vacationship Grant 2018

In 2018 Jana was awarded a studentship to support an undergraduate in her lab to investigate the morphology and cell biology of Streptomyces using standing wave microscopy.

"Getting experience in grant writing and the entire procedure, alongside the opportunity to offer a research experience for an undergraduate student and supervising her was a rewarding experience and I have learned lot in regards to obtaining funding, formal student supervision and project management.” 
Image credit: Jana Schniete