Oonagh Bodin - Interview with PhD Elizabeth Mathews

Posted by on 30 August 2016 | Comments

Today i'm talking with Elizabeth Mathews, a PhD research at La Trobe University, Bundoora in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology laboratory. Ellie is currently in the second year of her PhD and is looking at corrosion in our sewage systems!

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What are you currently researching in your PhD?

I am looking at Microbially induced concrete corrosion in our sewer systems. I am endeavouring to find a novel treatment that will stop the need to continually dose the sewers with chemicals. To do this I am using Microbial Fuel Cell technology to see if we can influence the function of these sewer communities. We are also using community fingerprinting and deep sequencing to get an idea of who is done there and what they might be doing.

What drew you to this area of research?

I have always been interested in the geobiochemical cycles of the Earth including the sulfur-cycle and here was a chance to study this cycle on a small scale in the sewer environment. I then realised the problems this corrosion caused and how devastating it could be to our health and quality of life.

What interests you most?

Sulfur bacteria like other anaerobes can be found in some very extreme environments…they are pretty weird but wonderful. There is so much we have yet to learn about them as well as there part in the cycles on this planet.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully in research doing a post-doc.

Why microbiology? Why science?

To me microbiology is like an all-in-one science. You have a whole world to explore just on a very small scale. Why science? Well it may sound idealistic of me but I have always been interested in the environment and I want to contribute to making this world a better place. Science gives me hope.

Thanks Ellie! You'll find Ellie tweeting @eala_mathews. To find out what is happening in the Franks lab, learn about their other projects, and see their recent list of publications, visit the Applied and Environmental microbiology laboratory webpage HERE.