Grace Blackwell - Postdoctoral Fellow

Grace Blackwell - Postdoctoral Fellow

Grace Blackwell is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Zamin Iqbal's group at EMBL-EBI, studying bacteria and plasmids.

Grace Blackwell, EMBL-EBI ESPOD

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 BIGSI, 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!

Want to work with us?

View career openings at EMBL-EBI