Loryn Byres is one of 10 IIDR trainees to have received the Institute’s prestigious Summer Fellowship Award. The highly competitive fellowship, now in its fourth year and worth $1,000, is designed to support students working in the labs of IIDR members during their summer practicum, which runs from May to August.
Whose lab are you working in and what drew you to their research?
I’m working in Dr. Marie Elliot’s lab. I first became interested in her research while taking her class on microbial genetics. I was intrigued by both the practical applications of what we were learning and the relevance of the research to real world issues.
Describe your research project
My project focuses on the nucleoid associated protein Lsr2 in Streptomyces venezuelae. Streptomyces bacteria produce the majority of naturally synthesized antibiotics, and it is believed that they have the capacity to make many more. Previous work from the Elliot Lab has shown that Lsr2 plays a significant role in repressing cryptic antibiotic clusters, which are not generally expressed under laboratory conditions.
What are the real world applications of your research?
Due to the current problems associated with antibiotic resistance, a lot of effort has gone into finding new antibiotics to combat disease, and Streptomyces is a good place to look. Because Lsr2 appears to be a central repressor for cryptic antibiotic clusters, having a strong understanding of how it functions to regulate gene expression could help us to manipulate its activity, and in stimulating the production of (potentially novel) secondary metabolites.
What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship?
My goal is to become familiar with both laboratory research and the field of microbial genetics. I’m also interested in taking the theories I learned in class and applying them in a practical setting.
How will this fellowship allow you to do this?
I feel that over the course of this fellowship I will definitely develop stronger laboratory skills, which will help me extensively in the future. But I think the most beneficial aspect of this fellowship is having the opportunity to learn about a range of topics I may otherwise have never been exposed to.
What is your end goal, in terms of a career?
Receiving this fellowship has confirmed my interest in pursuing a career in research.