Skip to 0 minutes and 17 secondsHi, I'm Spencer. I'm in my final year. That's my fourth year of the placement year. I'm doing a bachelor's in Biological Sciences, and I'll be graduating this summer. I thought it would be really interesting to study this. it was a case of, it was something new, I hadn't done much in the environment before, and I thought it was a bit more my cup of tea than just doing pathology or entirely lab based. I like to be outdoors, I like to work outdoors. Final year research project was with Dr. Renee Lee. And it was on environmental microbiology. We went to Wales, and we went caving in a cave called Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, which means "Cave of the Black Spring."

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsAnd we were down there for a whole day, we must have spent about eight hours in the cave sampling and we got to look around all the cave system, go and see some interesting formations. I learned about all sorts of extreme microbes that can be residing in different environments and the sorts of processes that they utilise to metabolise different substrates and have different lifestyles in these diverse environments. And it's very different from, say, what we typically use, which is human based pathogens or pathogens which are in settings similar to us in everyday life.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsThis environmental microbiology based research project has actually influenced me to take on a PhD at the National Oceanography Centre which is, although a slightly different environment which is based on the ocean, it's still the same idea of going and discovering new things. I would definitely recommend doing a projects based around environmental microbiology. I really enjoyed going down to the cave in Wales, it was a really good experience, very different from anything else I've done through university or before university. And the fact that you get the opportunity to do this at Reading was a real highlight for me in my degree.

Meet Spencer Long- a microbiology graduate

In this video you’ll meet Spencer, who studied Biological Sciences at the University of Reading. Spencer introduces his final year research project with Dr Renee Lee (who you’ll meet later in the course) on the extreme microbes which live in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu - Cave of the Black Spring in Welsh - which is in Upper Swansea Valley.

If you would like to hear more about cave-dwelling microbes, you can listen to an audio clip from Dr Renee Lee, which is available in the ‘Downloads’ section, below.

Spencer graduated from the University of Reading in June 2018 and is currently undertaking a PhD in marine microbiology within the Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

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This video is from the free online course:

Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology

University of Reading