Dr David Clarke: Chair of the Irish Division

Issue: Oceans

05 February 2019 article


The Society has four Divisions (Eukaryotic, Prokaryotic, Virology and Irish) made up of members who support the direction and remit of the organisation and who plan sessions and symposia for the Society’s annual events. The Chair and Chair-Elect of each Division also sit on the Scientific Conferences Committee, with the responsibility for making decisions on policy and meetings content, and the Chair reports into the Society’s governing body, Council. David Clarke is the Chair of the Irish Division. In this article, David tells us about his background, why he became a microbiologist and his role within the Society.

My name is David Clarke and I am a Lecturer in the School of Microbiology at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland. I am also a Funded Investigator in APC Microbiome Ireland, an Irish government-funded research institute focused on the role of the microbiome during health and disease and based at UCC. For many years my group has been interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underpin microbe–host interactions. At the moment my group has active projects involving Escherichia coli, Bacteroides and Photorhabdus (a bacterium that is a pathogen of insects while also maintaining a mutualistic association with nematodes).

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

During school we had a great biology teacher, Mrs Lynch, and she got me interested in the subject. However, we didn’t do very much microbiology in school and it was my father, who spent some time working in the microbiology laboratories in Guinness (both in Ireland and abroad), who probably sparked my interest in microbiology with the initial idea that I might be a brewer! I did a BSc in Biotechnology at Dublin City University, and it was here that my head was turned towards bacteria and genetics. There is something incredibly satisfying about successfully understanding a complex phenotype in terms of the interactions between some genes and their environment.

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

I don’t remember exactly when I joined the Society but it was a long time ago! I think that I initially joined to participate in the 123rd Ordinary Meeting of the Microbiology Society (Society of General Microbiology as it was then) in Trinity College Dublin in September 1992.

Please describe your role on the Division

I am currently Chair of the Irish Division. The Irish Division seeks to promote all aspects of microbiology in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Every year the Irish Division organises meetings on diverse microbiology topics and everyone is welcome to participate in these meetings.

What motivated you to be part of the Division?

I have been on some sort of committee or another with the Society since 2003 when I was first elected to be a member of the Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Group (now part of the Prokaryotic Division). At the time I was a new member of faculty at the University of Bath and I was very interested in the networking opportunities that working on this committee would provide. It was also very rewarding to be involved in organising conferences and symposia, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Microbiology Society over the years.

Are you a member and would you like to join one of the Divisions? Find out more about the Divisions and what they do on the Divisions page of the website. There is also a Council and Committees shadowing scheme which is a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into the work of the Society and to gain a wealth of knowledge by experiencing first-hand our Council and Committee activities.

Image: David Clarke.