Research project title: Characterising the interaction between the human respiratory tract and the pathogen Mycoplasma pneumoniae
Describe your research project My research revolves at looking at the tools (proteins) involved in the interaction between the bacteria, Mycoplasma pneumoniae (MPN), and the site where it causes infection, our lungs. This bacteria is one of the main causes of pneumonia in highly dense communities and once it’s in you, it’s difficult to remove. This is one of the smallest known bacteria. Because it is so tiny, it has a limited number of weapons it can use to attack human cells and defend against the immune system.
What I have found is that MPN compensates for its limited arsenal by a process known as cleavage. Basically, this is when a protein is cleaved to form smaller proteins that still have functions. This allows MPN to be well equipped in fighting the human cells during an infection.
This is extremely interesting as it has not been seen in MPN before and now opens new avenues as to how tiny bacteria are so sufficient and difficult to kill during an infection. The methods I used could also be applied to see if cleavage is present in other bacteria. If this cleavage can be prevented it may help reduce the burden MPN causes during infection.
What is the aim of your project? I aim aiming on figuring out how is it that Mycoplasma pneumoniae (MPN) has this "cleavage" process, what protein (or tool) is repsonsible for it and how can we stop it. Alongside this I am also looking at what else happens during an infection with MPN.
Why did you choose to pursue a research degree as opposed to going into the work force? Why this area of research? I have always been interested in little things and biology. The way microorganisms especially bacteria are able to exist fascinates me. It amazes me how such a "simple" organism when compared to animals and plants is able to live. By pursuing a research degree I am able to contribute to society's knowledge on how microorganisms work and live.
What is your daily activity? Conducting experiments in the lab or analysing data collected from precious experiments. If not I would usually be educating and inspiring undergraduates to pick up a career in research.
What attracted you to research at UTS Science? I feel that UTS Science is starting to gain a reputation as a faculty on the forefront of science research. We have the right equipment and the people to continue this lead in research.
What is your future? I aspire to continue research but at the same time also pick up science communication. I would like to spread and inform the general public about not only the science research that is being conducted at UTS Science but the research around Sydney, Australia and around the world.