30 April 2020

My UEA Story: Ethan Drury

Ethan Drury

Name: Ethan Drury

School: Medicine / Biology

Research area: Citizen Science and Antibiotic Discovery

Bio: I did an undergraduate degree in marine biology at Plymouth University and an MRes in Molecular Microbiology at Newcastle University. I am about to start the 3rd year of my PhD at UEA which focuses on discovering novel antibiotics produced by soil bacteria whilst engaging the public in a citizen science project. I hope to be a very (very) small part of the solution to antibiotic resistance.


Ethan's life as a UEA postgraduate research student



My name is Ethan Drury and I'm studying - well the title of my research is Citizen Science and Antibiotic Discovery. Our aim is to basically discover new antibiotics and at the same time involve the public and engage the public in understanding the problem of antimicrobial resistance, hopefully leading to change in their behaviour.

What could your research mean in the real world?

So really it's the idea that we can reinvigorate this drug discovery pipeline in terms of discovering new antibiotics, which is obviously a big motivation for all of us at the moment. And also the idea that we could sort of show on a smaller scale that it is possible to get the public on board and get them sort of agreeing with the idea that we need to preserve current antimicrobials.

What fascinates you about this research area?

I love the integrated nature of it, especially the merge between microbiology and the Social Sciences, I think it's quite a novel thing and I love being able to pull on different things from each discipline and using them really to make something that hasn't been done.

What's been your favourite moment so far?

So really for me it was going to the forests and collecting the data and obviously when I say collecting I mean having the public collect the data for us and seeing how engaged they get with the project - I just find it absolutely amazing every time.

What do you love about research?

You never really know what's going to happen next and although that can be sometimes something that makes you want to pull your hair out at the same time it's something that really keeps me excited and interested in what I do and I don't think I'd change it for anything.

Find out more about Postgraduate Research degrees



A day in the life


I start my day by attempting to get out of bed at 7am. Half an hour later I usually manage, and then go through the normal morning routine whilst stumbling around trying to find food and pestering my girlfriend to make me a cup of tea.



I sprint to the next bus (it is always 1 minute away no matter what time of day). I open my supervisor’s book and start making notes for the half an hour the journey takes.



I make a coffee and answer my emails, sometimes this requires smashing the delete button, other times this can take over an hour of carefully considered responses. I write my to do list, which I send to my primary supervisor.



I go to the library as the office starts to fill up and read a full chapter of the book/papers that I am supposed to be reading.



I finish the chapter, desperate to go and eat. This may be food my girlfriend makes the night before, or I go to the Sportspark and treat myself to a hunters chicken. If I am feeling particularly energetic I use this time to go to the gym.



Back to the library, I get to work on analysing interview data from our citizen scientists. This involves printing out every single response to individual questions and analysing them for consistent themes, which will eventually form a framework from which we can conduct our deeper conversation analysis.



I always have my emails open, tending to respond to them as they come up. If not, I will check that I am not needed or answer any outfall from the mornings email session. 



I will be growing tired, so I tend to save small menial tasks until this time, such as the final emails of the day, writing this blog, updating my reference manager, deciding on some papers I want to read.



I round up my colleagues and drag them to the PGR sports sessions I have set up with the help of the SU (every Tuesday if you are interested). 



I get the bus home.



After having showered, I eat the meal my girlfriend has prepared, watch some videos, ring my family, tend to my two fish tanks and then crash in to bed.



I struggle to fall asleep, knowing I will be up nice and early in the morning but having many things on my mind, like an impending deadline or some interesting experiments I would like to do.



I am asleep – finally. 

Norwich Medical School

School of Biological Sciences