News : Congratulations to this year's Annual Conference Poster Prize winner

14 June 2018

Earlier this year Microbiology awarded a prize for the best poster at the Society's Annual Conference in Birmingham. 

Judged by the journal's Editorial Board and presented by Editor-in-Chief Tanya Parish, this year's winner is Gal Horesh for her poster entitled "The diversity and mobility of toxin antitoxin systems in a large dataset of Klebsiella spp."

Following the conference, we caught up with Gal to ask her about her work. 

Who or what inspired you to be a scientist?
My biology high school teacher was a big inspiration for me from my teenage years. She was a great teacher and fed my curiosity on the basics of how life works which I was fascinated by. It was obvious to me following my high school education that I would like to learn more about biology and contribute to research myself.

What are you currently working on and what area of your research excites you the most?
I am using computational approaches to examine the diversity of toxin-antitoxin systems and other mobile genetic elements across large datasets of Klebsiella and E. coli. I am most excited about breaking the dogma of a tree shaped evolution, and understanding the ‘true’ evolutionary process underlying the genomes we observe: a network for each gene consisting of many horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events. I am eager to understand how these HGT events contribute to the success of specific lineages and how this contributes to the emergence of multidrug resistant strains.

How would you explain your poster to a child under 10?
Germs are weird. These tiny bugs, or bacteria, have poisons inside them that can kill them. But they also contain a medicine that can stop the poison from killing them. Scientists still don’t know how all of this works. For example, why do bugs have these poisons and medicines in the first place? And why do bugs only have certain combinations of poisons and medicines? I wrote a computer program to try to answer both of these questions. I found some patterns that linked some combinations of poisons and medicines to certain bugs. I was also able to find new medicines that had never been seen before. 

What would you be doing in your career if you weren't a scientist?

If I wasn’t a scientist I would most likely be working as a computer programmer. I really enjoy programming, and I find it satisfying solving problems and being amazed by the outcome you can get from writing a few lines of code. I am lucky that I get to do research and incorporate my love for coding in my work. I would also have loved to teach and inspire young children in the way I was inspired by mine.

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