Gill Elliott: Chair of the Virus Division

Issue: Natural Products and Drug Discovery

05 November 2019 article

The Society has four Divisions (Eukaryotic, Prokaryotic, Virus and Irish) which consist of Society members who support the organisation and plan sessions and symposia for the Society’s events programme. Each Division Chair and Chair-Elect sit on the Scientific Conferences Committee and the Chair reports into the Society’s governing body, Council. In this article we find out more about Gill Elliott, Chair of the Virus Division.

I am Professor of Virology and Research Director in the Department of Microbial Sciences, University of Surrey, UK. My major research interest is the cell biology of herpesvirus infection, primarily of herpes simplex virus. My lab pioneered the development of fluorescent viruses to image virus infection in real time. Viruses are fantastically powerful cell biology tools, and we use them to understand not only the virus in question, but also the cells in which they grow.

When did you first decide you wanted to do science (and why)?

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the world of science – from experimenting with a chemistry set as a ten-year-old to using my brother’s rudimentary microscope to look at onion cells. My interest in microbiology began in secondary school, when we learnt about the work of famous scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner. Viruses came much later; in fact, not until my final year undergraduate project at Queen’s University Belfast. There I was introduced to the field of molecular virology by my supervisor Bert Rima, and I discovered the joy of research at the bench. I was hooked instantly, and still am.

When did you join the Society and why did you join?

I first joined the Society when I was a PhD student – many years ago! It was a great opportunity to attend a broad-scope conference on a relatively low budget, to hear work presented by top virologists and to network with other PhD students. I always ensure that my own PhD students are able to attend the Annual Conference and experience the same opportunities.

Please describe your role on the Division.

I am currently Chair of the Virus Division. My role is to have oversight of the scientific content of the virology part of the Annual Conference, and to work with my Chair-Elect to co-ordinate the symposia and workshops that the Division organises. I work with a great team of UK and Irish virologists on the Division to come up with stimulating programmes of science, which are delivered by internationally renowned speakers. As Chair of a Division, I also sit on the Society’s Scientific Conferences Committee, which brings me into close contact with the other Divisions in the Society and enables me to contribute to the broader decisions made by the committee, helping to shape the conferences in recent years.

Are you a member that would like to join one of the Divisions? Find out more on the Divisions page of the website. The Council and Committees shadowing scheme is also a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into the work of the Society and gain first-hand experience of our Council and Committee activities.