Celebrating Young Scientists

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Celebrating Young Scientists: DWS Travel Grant

The Don Whitley Scientific (DWS) Travel Grant has been instrumental in supporting numerous aspiring scientists to showcase their research on an international platform. The scheme, which has been running for over 8 years now, grants a bursary of up to £250 to Whitley Workstation users who want to present their poster or presentation at a conference or exhibition.

Recipients of the grant have the flexibility to utilise the funding for various expenses related to their travel, including tickets, accommodation, and other associated costs. This ensures that financial constraints do not hinder their ability to share their scientific contributions with the global community.

In return for the support received, recipients are requested to fulfil certain obligations:

  • Include the DWS logo on their poster or presentation.
  • Highlight the utilisation of a Whitley Workstation in their work.
  • Include a photograph featuring themselves using the workstation on their poster or presentation.
  • Submit a follow-up article for the DWS blog, which will be linked to their poster, along with the picture of them using the workstation.
  • Provide photographs depicting their presentation of the paper or poster at the conference.

Jess Buddle

One particular researcher, Jessica Buddle, has received the DWS Travel Grant three times now. Jess has presented her work in Canada at the 13th Clostpath meeting, in Liverpool at the 9th Northern BUG meeting and most recently at the Bioinfect 2024 meeting in Liverpool.

Jess shared her most recent experience with us:

“I’m Jess, a 4th year PhD student at the University of Sheffield, and my project looks at vancomycin resistance in Clostridium difficile. We evolved resistance to the front-line drug vancomycin, and used genome sequencing and a range of molecular biology techniques to identify 2 routes to resistance, one of which involved a novel cluster of genes which I was allowed to name (after myself) (in a decidedly non-narcissistic way). We found that a single nucleotide change in the entire genome was enough to provide low-level resistance, and used qPCR to understand the mechanism. The Whitley Anaerobic Workstations (special mention: DG250 and A35) have been instrumental in performing, to our knowledge, the largest evolution in C. difficile to date. I have used both mentioned workstations through my whole PhD, for growth curves, MICs, and more cloning than I ever thought was possible for a person in 3.5 years!

All of this work culminated last year in having a preprint, which is currently in response to reviewers’ stage. I was super excited to share this work at Bioinfect 2024, an industry-oriented conference that is centred on AMR. It seemed the perfect place to not only share my work and learn about new research in the AMR sphere, but also to network with industry leaders in the AMR, contract research, and diagnostics fields. The conference was fantastic, with interesting talks, panel discussions which I (bravely) got involved in, and tonnes of networking. My poster had loads of interest, and I had some great conversations with new and old connections. I also had some great discussions about potential future roles, and lots of interest in myself as a candidate, which is promising considering the limited time I have left in my PhD.   Jess BuddleI naively printed 200 business cards at the start of my PhD, thinking 3.5 years would be plenty of time to get through them.
I can proudly say I got rid of at least 10 more this conference, so now there’s only 170 to go…

The last thing to say of course is that this isn’t my first rodeo – in fact, DWS has supported my attendance at 2 previous conferences, and I’m truly grateful to the team for allowing me to travel and attend these conferences. I always strive to make the most out of each experience and thank DWS for making this possible.”

Multiple evolutionary pathways lead to vancomycin resistance in Clostridioides difficile - J.Buddle.pptx

Don Whitley Scientific aims to always support young scientists in their endeavours wherever possible. This symbiotic relationship fosters collaboration and promotes the advancement of scientific knowledge on a global scale. If you are interested in the Workstation Travel Grant please contact steve_robertson@dwscientific.co.uk and get the ball rolling!


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