Fleming Showcase five-minute thesis profile: Liam Rooney

12 February 2020

Last year, we launched a call for abstracts from final-year PhD students (and those within one year of completion) to take part in a series of five-minute thesis slots at our Fleming Showcase event. In the lead up to Annual Conference we will be sharing the profiles of those selected to present. This week we learn more about Liam Rooney.

In celebration of the Society’s 75th anniversary, our Annual Conference will include the Fleming Showcase at the start of the week. 

Our Fleming Prize, named after founding member and first President of the Society, Sir Alexander Fleming FRS, is awarded each year to an early career researcher who has achieved an outstanding research record within 12 years of being awarded their PhD.

The Fleming Showcase will be a celebration of outstanding science in recognition of the legacy of past Fleming Prize winners and will demonstrate the impact of both established and up-and-coming scientists in addressing important challenges.

The day is organised by a committee of Fleming Prize Winners, chaired by Sir Paul Nurse FRS, and will be compèred by academic, writer and television broadcaster, Professor Alice Roberts. This will run on Monday 30 March 2020 and will be followed by the standard four days of scientific sessions.

Liam Rooney

Liam is a final-year PhD Student at the University of Strathclyde, who graduated with first-class honours in Cell and Molecular Biology from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2016, before transitioning into the fields of microbiology and microscopy.

His research now focuses on developing novel microscopy techniques for a range of microbiological questions. One aspect of his work involved developing a multi-wavelength interference microscopy method for 3D single-cell bacterial imaging, where he discovered novel 3D gliding behaviours in the predatory bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus. Liam has also worked on a 3D culture method for studying soil ecology under the microscope. This involves constructing transparent soil environments which are compatible with a range of optical microscopes and can be used to study growth dynamics in a mimetic soil environment.

“The channel structures which we have discovered facilitate nutrient acquisition – a process which could be exploited to design novel therapeutic strategies for biofilm clearance.”

Additionally, Liam has also identified a novel 3D channel system in mature Escherichia coli macro-colony biofilms using an advanced imaging system called the Mesolens. These channel structures permeate the biofilm and play a role in the acquisition and transport of nutrients from outside of the biofilm into the centre of the biomass.

Over the course of his PhD, Liam has won numerous conference prizes and awards, including the 2018/19 Junior Award for Microbiology (JAM). Liam is also a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.

We asked Liam what presenting at the Fleming Showcase event meant to him:

“Being given the opportunity to present my work in the Fleming Showcase is a fantastic way to communicate my research to an audience of world-leading and inspiring scientists. Having the honour as part of the Society’s 75th Anniversary celebrations makes the occasion even more meaningful for me.”

Find out more about the Fleming Showcase event and register your place on the event page.