A former Abingdon schoolgirl has presented her PhD research to a team of MPs and experts in parliament this week.
Cara Ellison, who went to St Helen and St Katharine School in Faringdon Road, presented her doctorate research on antibiotic resistance and the risk it poses to public health to politicians and judges on Monday last week as part of a STEM for Britain competition.
The 25-year-old, who grew up in Letcombe Regis, near Wantage, created a poster about her studies, which was judged alongside other students’ work, and said she “thoroughly enjoyed presenting and discussing” her work.
Cara has just completed her third year as a PhD student at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge and is currently writing her thesis.
She got the opportunity to speak in London having been shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in parliament.
But this failed to deter the Downing College natural sciences graduate, who said she “received lots of interest” in her work and “really enjoyed participating in the event”.
Speaking of the competition, Stephen Metcalfe MP, chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.
“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”
Once Cara completes her thesis, she intends to continue with her research by further exploring the interaction between humans and bacteria.
She said: “Initially I expect this to be as a postdoctoral researcher at the LMB, and then possibly working for a period aboard, with an aim of eventually leading a research team of my own in years to come.”
She said she was inspired to undertake her research as she is “fascinated by the way tiny bacteria and viruses have evolved to invade, hijack and destroy cells”.
“This interest led me to embark on a PhD uncovering new ways in which cells detect invasion by bacteria and viruses,” she added.