Grace Blackwell - Postdoctoral Fellow
Grace Blackwell is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Zamin Iqbal's group at EMBL-EBI, studying bacteria and plasmids.
Q&A with Grace Blackwell
"The first few months have been a learning curve – but a successful one!"
What’s your professional background?
I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney, Australia. That’s where I became interested in antibiotic resistance and how it evolves over time. I studied Acinetobacter baumannii, an opportunistic bacteria species that is found in hospitals.
What do you do now?
I have an ESPOD fellowship, which means my postdoc is based half at EMBL-EBI and half at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. I really enjoy the fact that it combines experimental approaches with computational analysis. Before I started here, I hadn’t done much computational work, so the first few months have been a bit of a learning curve – but a successful one. It’s so satisfying to see my scripts work!
What are you currently working on?
I’m studying the Enterobacteriaceae family, which includes Salmonella and E. coli. I’m using a tool developed at EMBL-EBI, called , which is a bit like a search engine for microbes. BIGSI allows me to find which bacteria species in the family share specific DNA sequences, such as genes. On the wet lab side, I’m sequencing a collection of old plasmids from the 60s to the mid-80s that have never been sequenced before, so there’s a good chance they’ll reveal some interesting insights.
What is it like working at EMBL-EBI?
One of the best things is getting opinions from both sides: EMBL-EBI and Sanger; biologists and computational experts. It really helps when you get stuck, because it teaches you approach problems differently.
I also love the gorgeous green campus, with its talks, seminars and social activities.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of applying for a postdoc at EMBL-EBI?
Take the opportunity to visit and meet your supervisor. You will probably know straight away if it’s the place for you.
What inspires you?
I can be pretty stubborn; not sure if that counts as a source of inspiration, but once I pick up on something, I will stick with it until it’s done!
Tell us one thing we can’t find out about you from Google?
One of the first things I did after finding out I got this postdoc was to check if there were any good hockey teams in Cambridge. Spoiler alert: the answer is yes!