Advanced Bacterial Genetics Course

Visitor of the Week: Ashton Creasy

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Meet Ashton Creasy of the University of Florida. Ashton began her career in the pharmaceutical industry before a desire to play a more direct role in the global population led her to change gears. A MPH/PhD student in Eric Nelson’s lab, Ashton is on campus participating in Advanced Bacterial Genetics – her first CSHL course. 

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in previously-undescribed antibiotic resistance mechanisms and antibiotic drug targets of Vibrio cholerae, the pathogen that causes cholera.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research? 
Cholera affects the most vulnerable of the global population: impoverished children and their families. The global perturbation of increasing antibiotic resistance only worsens and extends cholera outbreaks.

How did your scientific journey begin? 
Prior to starting graduate school, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for six years as a quality control analyst. I felt unfulfilled there and wanted my work to have more of an impact on the global population. 

Was there something specific about the Advanced Bacterial Genetics course that drew you to apply?
I knew I had great research questions, but I didn’t know the best way to carry them out. The course instructors and my fellow course mates have been really great to bounce ideas off of and help optimize research methods.

What and/or how will you apply what you've learned from the course to your work? 
Several of the methods we have learned can be easily applied to my work, specifically transposon insertion sequencing and CRISPR-cas editing. I am looking forward to sharing what I have learned here with my home institution to help others develop and apply these research methods.

What is your key takeaway from the course?
I have learned many methods of bacterial genetic transformation that would benefit future research and has fostered new ideas -- we’re only halfway through the course and I have already written up five new possible research questions!    

How many CSHL courses have you attended?
This is my first one and I would love to come back for another one!

If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
Be ready to work really hard, but also have a lot of fun. The days are long, but the company and the connections you make will last throughout your career.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL? 
I like the time spent with my classmates discussing our projects and possible collaborations in the future. 

Ashton received a fellowship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to cover a portion of her course tuition. On behalf of Ashton, thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Ashton for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.

Visitor of the Week: Luke Blakeway

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Meet Luke Blakeway of the Institute for Glycomics in Griffith University (Australia). The PhD student is a member of Kate Seib’s lab and is on campus to attend our Advanced Bacterial Genetics course. Read on for what the CSHL first-timer has to say about the annual course and his experience so far.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I work on bacteria that causes ear infections in young children called Moraxella catarrhalis, and how epigenetic regulation affects its ability to cause disease.

Was there something specific about the Advanced Bacterial Genetics course that drew you to apply?
There are a number of overlaps between my PhD project and the work of the course’s guest lecturers so having the opportunity to sit down and talk science with them really excited me! The course also provides next generation genome sequencing training, and where better to learn that than the home of molecular genetics?

What is your key takeaway from the Course?
Laboratories around the world do things very differently and I’ve had the opportunity to learn a range of techniques that I would never have been exposed to if I didn’t come to CSHL.

How many CSHL courses have you attended?
I’ve only attended my current course; Advanced Bacterial Genetics. I don’t have any plans yet to attend a future CSHL course or meeting, but I’d come back to CSHL in a heartbeat!

If someone curious in attending your course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I’d tell them to apply straight away. The course is a lot of fun, the techniques you learn are at the forefront of the field and have wide applications, and the instructors and attendees are some of the most amazing, insightful people you’ll ever met.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I’ve truly made some lifelong friends from all over the world at CSHL. Everyone is so diverse but everyone is also on the same wavelength and we’re all here for the same learning experience, which makes for a great social atmosphere.

Luke received a stipend from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to cover a portion of his course tuition. On behalf of Luke, thank you to HHMI for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Luke for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course – go here.