A PhD student at Edge Hill University whose antimicrobial research could aid the discovery of new antibiotics has secured a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to interview one of the world’s leading scientists.

Linamaria Pintor-Escobar, a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in Edge Hill’s Biology Department, was selected by the UK’s Microbiology Society to interview Professor Joan Steitz, one of the most distinguished biomedical scientists of the 20th century.

Each year the Microbiology Society invites early career researchers to apply to interview its annual Prize Lecture winners. Linamaria interviewed Professor Steitz, who is the recipient of the Prize Medal – the society’s highest honour – in recognition of her pioneering research and contribution to science in the field of ribonucleic acid (RNA).

PhD student Linamaria Pintor-Escobar

Linamaria said: “It was around two years ago that I first learned about this opportunity to interview one of the Prize Lecture winners and I told myself that it would be a goal of mine to do that one day, which I’m proud to have achieved.

“I was so impressed with this year’s awards list as four of the five winners were women, which was amazing to see. As an early career researcher, I was so impressed by Professor Steitz’s profile because she has contributed so much to the field of microbiology and has also been a major champion of women in science. The discoveries she has made in her career are really the basis of what I learned in my degree and that was so inspiring, it was a special moment that I don’t think I’ll ever experience again.”

Linamaria, who is from Colombia, joined Edge Hill in 2017 as a sponsored researcher in a project funded by the British Council and the Newton Fund. For her PhD study at Edge Hill, she is researching three bacterial strains isolated from an unexplored and unique environment in Colombia to explore their potential to produce new antibiotics.

She added: “It’s been a fascinating project to be involved in. I come from Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, which is a very big, crowded city. Coming to Edge Hill and moving to a small town like Ormskirk felt like a relief from that stressful city life and I really enjoy being surrounded by the beautiful landscape. It’s been a really nice experience so far and I’m fortunate that the Biology team have been brilliant, and it has a really good, welcoming atmosphere.”

Studying Biology at Edge Hill will give you the skills and opportunities to advance human knowledge and understanding today, in order to make a difference to tomorrow’s world.