Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of Reading's online course, Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsI'm Matt. I'm a fourth-year student now on the BSC microbiology programme at University of Reading. I did a year-- placement year-- as part of my degree. I went to Iceland, to the north of the country-- a city called Akureyri, which is the second-largest city in Iceland. We spent the first week travelling around the country, going to various sample sites to look at various environments. It was really, really good. It was great to sort of go out and see the environments where microbes are living. And we also went to sort of Mars analogue sites, so environments which look a little bit like Mars. And that was quite amazing to see places I'd never really seen before.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsI learned some pretty amazing things about what Iceland was like and also just how versatile and survivable microbes can be in these crazy environments with extremes of temperature and UV. And they can survive pretty much anywhere, which is quite amazing. I've had lots of good opportunities to interact with a variety of different topics, meet people from lots of different fields, meet lots of people who are specialising in certain things. And I'd definitely choose it again if I could. After having err, got some experience on the placement and in Iceland, I'm going to go and study a PhD. And I think the degree at Reading has really prepared me well for going on to do that.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 secondsAnd I'm really quite excited to get started and get stuck in with a career in science.

Meet Matthew Shepherd - a microbiology graduate

In this video you’ll meet Matthew, who studied microbiology at the University of Reading. Matthew explains how his experiences of a microbiology work placement and studying microbial ecology on a field trip to Iceland were particular highlights of his degree.

You may also like to read these blog posts written by students who joined this annual trip in 2016.

Matthew graduated from the University of Reading in June 2018 and is now undertaking a PhD in molecular microbiology at the University of Bath. He’s working on the rewired flagellum project supervised by Dr Tiffany Taylor.


We hope you enjoyed this Week, where you explored some of the major discoveries in microbiology and got the chance to perform your own microbiology experiment. You also learnt about a number of current techniques used in our working labs study microbes, as well as exploring more experimental microbiology techniques.

Join us in Week 3 where you’ll explore how microbes impact health, food and our environment.

Hear expert interviews from medical experts Dr Sheila Macintyre and Dr Simon Clarke, environmental expert Dr Renee Lee and food microbiology expert Dr Gemma Walton, and try out another home experiment where you can make your own yoghurt.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology

University of Reading

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: