Christopher – Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, MSc

Hi everyone!

I am Chris, I am 24 years old, originally from Scotland and I am a second-year GMB master’s student at the University of Helsinki. I like drinking tea and skipping stones, but most of all I love bacteria! They are some of the coolest and most versatile organisms on the planet. There is almost not a single place on earth where you won’t find them, whether it be in arctic oceans or geothermal geysers.

But how are these organisms able to cope with such different conditions? Unlike us, bacteria have no bodies with which to regulate their temperatures, instead they need to employ special strategies to avoid dying and to continue dividing and reproducing. While we are able to analyse the chemical composition of these cells, it is less easy to measure exactly what the proteins and DNA are doing in live cells. To do so, we need to be able to visualise the proteins under a microscopy using fluorescent tags.

With the help of HiLIFE Trainee Scholarship, I will be going to the Extreme Thermophiles laboratory in Universidad Autonoma Madrid, Spain for my project on generating genetically-tagged proteins in Thermus Thermophilus. Unlike most laboratory bacteria, Thermus is a thermophile and so grows best at >65C. This is interesting, because just like butter, the inside of a cell behaves differently compared to cold temperatures where the butter stays solid! I hope that the genetic constructs made in this project will be used to better understand how thermophilic bacteria can adapt to these temperatures.

You can view Chris’ full introduction post in Instagram:  (posted March 13, 2024).