£940,000 grant awarded to shape new study of microbes
Last updated on 7/1/2013 Print this page
26 October 2012
A new study led by a scientist at the University of Hull has
won funding to show how tiny organisms such as microbes and
bacteria use their shape to adapt and survive.
Dr Stuart Humphries, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of
Biological Sciences, has been awarded a prestigious Research
Leadership Award by the Leverhulme Trust of more than £940,000 to
study how the shape of important microbes such as bacteria and
plankton influence both their lives and ours.
Understanding why bacteria and other microbes display such a
wide range of shapes will enable us to understand how they interact
with their environment to produce disease, provide us with
beneficial products, and how they interact with other organisms to
keep key ecosystems working.
< Dr Stuart Humphries
Dr Humphries said: “Despite their impact on our lives we still
have no real idea of why microorganisms look the way they do. In
the microscopic realm, things we take for granted, such as gravity,
are less important, and other constraints affect microbe shape.
“The Leverhulme Trust Award will be used to build up an
interdisciplinary group of experimental and evolutionary
biologists, mathematicians and engineers to change our outlook on
how and why microorganisms survive and flourish.”
Professor John Hay, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and
Enterprise, said: “We are delighted with this award from
Leverhulme, which will allow us to make significant strides in this
important research area. It links into two of the major themes we
are focussing on; health and wellbeing, and energy and environment,
and attracting this funding illustrates the strength and ability of
the University of Hull to carry out such high-level research.”
This grant will enable Dr Humphries to expand his group and fund
four extended postdoctoral positions and a PhD student across a
five-year period. The group will build on international
collaborations with the lab of Professor Susanne Menden-Deuer at
the University of Rhode Island.
The results of this programme of work will contribute to our
understanding of cultural and industrial problems in areas such as
applied microbial ecology, biosecurity, medical microbiology, and