ReNEW Secondment – Elizabeth Holton

I am a PhD student, conducting research in the Chemistry department at the University of Bath – specifically the Environmental Chemistry and Public Health research group, under Prof. Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Prof Ed Feil and Prof Chris Frost.

Throughout my first year of my study, I focussed predominantly on the development and validation of a method for quantifying antibiotics in water samples. Entirely chemistry-based research. However, a major aspect of my work (and one of ReNEW’s interests) is the manifestation of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the environment; particularly, the correlation between water pollution and emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms. A topic incorporating both chemical and biological understanding. So, unsurprisingly, I jumped at the opportunity for a 3-month secondment in the Stellenbosch Microbiology department.

During this time, I am researching the relationship between heavy metal water pollution and AMR. This will involve both the quantification of metals in Stellenbosch water samples, as well as the correlation of antibiotic resistance profiles with the presence of metals. The latter will involve the utilisation of an innovative technique, growing and manipulating biofilms under controlled conditions. We are hoping this will improve our general understanding of pollutive AMR co-selection.



This international exchange also provided me the opportunity to experience everyday life in a different culture – in my academic relationships, as well as extracurricular. For instance, I was fortunate to be selected into the Stellenbosch University Jazz Band, performing with them at two open-air concerts. One of which was conducted as part of Stellenbosch’s annual arts festival, Woordfees.

Hopefully, this will not be my last visit to South Africa!



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