I feel the need, the need for speed

It has been a great couple of months for Bioarchaeology research group, we have seen a wide range activities, we presented posters at RAC/TRAC, including winning the student prize – a great showcase for our work with Vindolanda – many congratulations to Rhys Williams, we have welcomed a new started Aboli Valve – whom will be starting work on archaeological fibres, we presented at the annual School research day, successfully completed 10 undergraduate projects, again including one which was awarded the school poster prize, so it is time for a rest!! Not at all, the planning of the instrumentation for the National Horizons Centre is continuing and there will be some exciting news on this in the coming months ahead, if you do want to work with us in the field of proteomics, metabolomics, bio-imaging, chemical characterisation using Raman, FTIR and many more, please do get in touch.

One of my conference highlights this year as group leader, is my attendance at ASMS in San Diego. What a fantastic conference, great location and I just love the American hospitality.

Firstly the conference, this is the premier mass spectrometry conference in the world, with over 7K attendees, this is the only conference where the app has kept me on track, literally.. I can easily clear 15K steps in one day! I am confused by the concept of cheese popcorn which seems to be a mid afternoon snack favourite.

Secondly the oral sessions, amazing range of topics, and the speakers are excellent. Some of my highlights have included MasSpec Pen for detecting cancer, MALDI imaging advances, workshops for indepth discussion of recent techniques – art and cultural history application, SPME applications. I have especially enjoyed the breakfast seminars, who doesn’t want to wake up listening to a mass spectrometry talk at 7am!! And finish the day at 7pm with workshops, that’s before you even dare the hospitality suites which are open until 11pm! Packed days.. fantastic..

Thirdly the poster session, this is excellent, over 800 posters (hence the need of an app!), great to speak to so many presenters, including grad students who are enthusiastic, dedicated and eager to discuss their scientific work.
Already planning ASMS 2019…

A final note San Diego is amazing, who wouldn’t want palm trees and sunny weather.. but what is more amazing is spending 7 days completely immersed in mass spectrometry and meeting fellow scientists who are more than happy to discuss techniques, instrumentation.. This is so valuable in our digital age when we forget how important it is to meet, discuss and debate.

My daily commute to the convention centre passes a café which should be immortalised, I posted the image on twitter with a quote from the song ‘great balls of fire’, but embarrassingly then I thought that most of the attendees weren’t even born when this was released!

I do more than lab work..

As the summer rolls on and it seems to go quicker every year, it gives me time to spend some time outside the lab. I need proof that I do indeed spend sometime outside, as currently, the PhD students do not think I venture out into the field so here are some pictures to prove that I can do more than laboratory work!

In a boat last month – disguised by a silly hat!

ok so this one is a little older.. but I am getting my feet wet!

The research team have a broad remit of understanding bone diagenesis and decomposition, mostly this relates to archaeology, but also to forensic and biomedical applications. check out our sister site of https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/tuhumbugs/, This summer so far has meant learning new techniques, setting up microcosms in the laboratory, developing methods in the laboratory, catching up current research and more importantly writing.. watch this space.

For myself the laboratory is really where I am at home, since working in the Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Unit, Newcastle University, my passion has always been the development of new methods, especially towards the measurement of amino acids and organic compounds. I spent three fantastic years in Leipzig, Germany at http://www.eva.mpg.de/evolution/index.html where I worked with one of the first LC-IRMS instruments. Since coming to Teesside University, I have built up a research team that investigates bone diagenesis, decomposition and amino acid metabolism for a range of applications. Our department has a strong forensic and biomedical focus and thus the instruments I work with are also applied to drug analysis. The unique opportunity to work on material at Vindolanda, Northumberland has allowed the research team to grow and use our expertise to aid the understanding of preservation mechanisms in waterlogged environments and importantly provide knowledge as to how to preserve and manage these important World Heritage Sites.

As the summer ends and the new term starts we will be bringing you a snapshot of what research we are doing, where we are presenting, what we are publishing and all the great stuff that our research team does.. we may also post some pictures of our holidays!

Graduation Week

Graduation week is always a special occasion in the academic calendar, one of my personal highlights towards this goal occurs in the final year as the science research project – students building confidence through development of laboratory skills and engaging with academic literature. One of the main research areas is decomposition, understanding bone diagenesis and factors which impact on this.

This year one of the Forensic Science students studying the decomposition of blood was Lucy Fox.  Lucy investigated the chemical changed that occur in blood once it has been deposited on a surface, comparing different types of animal blood, such as dog, horse and sheep. Understanding the chemical changes in blood is important to aid investigations in biomedical science and forensic science.

The best part in this report was the comment  ‘I loved being in the labs and particularly the chemistry side of the course.’ if only we could convert everyone to the love of decomposition chemistry..

Lucy Fox