Professor Liz Sockett's inspiration: Professor Carrie Harwood

Carrie invited me to participate in the Woods Hole Microbial Diversity summer school course at Cape Cod in the USA. It was an inspirational couple of weeks. The course has been running for 50 years, and gives scientists hands-on training in isolating and characterising important micro-organisms from natural environments. It brings together senior and junior investigators and is a meeting of great minds to learn and explore practical science. It was a dream of mine to be a part of this.
Carrie was an amazing multitasker. She was leading the course with another colleague, while simultaneously receiving manuscripts for an American Society of Microbiology journal (of which she was an editor), editing a bacterial genome sequence (manually in those days), and washing up the glassware from the Summer Course herself in the lab prep room– all while having her teenage son and his friend living with her at Cape Cod. I was inspired, seeing that even though I had a lot of teaching and other responsibilities, I could push forward and deal with lots of different demands while carrying out new research on Bdellovibrio.
I also greatly admired Carrie’s work on Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogens. Carrie’s daughter suffered from cystic fibrosis (CF), and the Pseudomonas is a frequent cause of infection in CF patients. Carrie’s work discovered new and unexpected pathways by which it can switch on growing as a biofilm and colonize bodily surfaces. She combines an excellent eye for the true molecular detail of how something works mechanistically with the big picture of why bacteria do this. Her personal and scientific strengths were - and are - inspirational to me, and have encouraged me to do the research that I have done.

About Liz Sockett

Professor Liz Sockett FRS is a bacteriologist who has pioneered the exploration of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus which are tiny natural predators of bacteria. She and her colleagues have identified ways that Bdellovibrio can be used to treat pathogen infections and how they evolved to do this. Liz was inspired in her early days in the 2000s working on Bdellovibrio, by Professor Carrie Harwood of University of Washington.